By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Reading, writing and robotics. That new third “R” of learning can be a door opener for students.

Alex DeMetrick reports it’s got the “RoboDoves” rolling.

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The RoboDoves baby is last year’s model. Built and operated by students at Baltimore’s all-girls Western High, the RoboDoves build robots for competition.

The latest is called “Joan of Arcs.”

It’s more than fun.

“They use a lot of math and physics, but they’re also using creative problem solving,” said Heather Romney, Western High teacher.

To compete in robotic contests like the one staged at the University of Maryland last spring.

The goal is maneuvering a robot to toss a two pound ball into a nine foot high hoop.

The learning comes when things go wrong.

“Yes, we have seen that first hand,” said Kaila Thomas.

“Our flipper, it gets damaged a lot in competition, so we gotta fix it,” said Nala Scott, Western High RoboDove.

“From observations to see what we could do about our robot, and we did it, and the next regional we were successful,” said Dania Allgood, Western High RoboDove.

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In January, they will be given six weeks to build a 2015 competitor.

That new robot will have to complete a different task.

When the RoboDoves learn what that task is “We test it out for certain dimensions and then run it for like a week,” Scott said.

Robots as a teaching tool is a natural fit for many students well before they reach high school.

“I was always fond of building things and taking them apart, so when I heard my high school had a robotics program, I joined immediately,” Thomas said.

While competing against other robots is the program’s goal, it also opens up some long term goals.

“I enjoy computer sciences,” Thomas said.

“I want to study cyber security and robotics engineering,” Allgood said.

“We have many alumni who are studying computer programing. We have one student at Hopkins who wants to be a doctor,” Romney said.

Roll with a robot, anything is possible.

Besides designing and building robots, the RoboDoves also raise the money needed for supplies and travel expenses to out-of-state competitions.

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