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Giving put high tech spin on Methodist education

Courtesy photo.
Courtesy photo.

As a young child, Citalli Crespo loved taking things apart.

“I started … playing, and then I would assemble it again,” the 14-year-old student said, laughing. “I started, like, ‘how does this work?’ And then I would take it apart. And there were times that I couldn’t do it again. And they said to me, ‘Can you? Can you repair it?’”

Sometimes Crespo could put things back together on her own, and sometimes she needed help from her parents, both engineers.

These days, Crespo enjoys using that same curiosity in her robotics class at Colegio Sara Alarcón, where funding from United Women in Faith has helped the bilingual school purchase five humanoid robots that Crespo and her classmates are learning to program.

Your support of the World Service Fund apportionment supports program-related general agencies, which are especially important to the common vision, mission, and ministry of The United Methodist Church.

“We are in a competitive world,” Principal Edgar García said. “And our students in general in Mexico City use technology or these kinds of robots when they are in high school, or in the university or college, and we don’t want to wait too much time to do it.”

So, he explained, at Colegio Sara Alarcón, students begin using the robots during what Americans would call the first year of middle school. First, they program their robots by dragging and dropping graphic blocks on a computer screen, stacking one command onto another. As the students advance, they use computers to create the coding that programs the robots.

“The humanoid robot is easier to manipulate because it is more intuitive,” robotics teacher Edgar Isaí Hernández Silva explained.

For aspiring professional soccer player Fernando Alcázar, the robots are not only intuitive, but they also combine three things he loves—the workings of the human body, math, and physics.

“They are like math and physics both together,” said 13-year-old Alcázar, who appreciates what he’s learning about human mechanics from the robots. “We have to look at the [physics] laws so you can make the robot work, or math, so you can know the values about every component. … So it’s very interesting for me.”

His classmate, Yelitza Santana, views them as a possible first step toward achieving one of her dream jobs.

“I really like the robotics,” Santana said, “because, well, one of the things that I want to be when I am older is an astronaut. So, in robotics, you will learn how to program them, and I think it’s something related to the thing that I want to do.”

The same class uses other technology, she explained. Earlier in the year, they completed an assignment involving building small cars and connecting circuits to make them drive on black lines drawn by the students. They’re also working with a 3-D printer, which helps their inventions come to life.

United Women in Faith’s Mission Giving continues to support operations and programming at the school.

“I want to say thank you,” García said, addressing United Women in Faith, “because you do make it really possible to do what we have done. And the first time that I saw the robots, I was very happy. … Our students will receive the benefit. Maybe now, but maybe in the future, because someone is helping us.”

“You can count on them”

excerpt from a story by Audrey Stanton-Smith, editor of Response and Nile Sprague, photojournalist based in California.

The World Service Fund provides basic financial support to program-related general agencies, which are especially important to the common vision, mission, and ministry of The United Methodist Church. Through World Service funding, agencies support annual conferences and local congregations in living out God’s mission for the worldwide Church. General agencies also provide essential services and ministries beyond the scope of individual local congregations and annual conferences through services and ministries that are highly focused, flexible, and capable of rapid response.

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