Moanalua Middle students construct innovative robots - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Moanalua Middle students construct innovative robots

Robert Walker Robert Walker
Harmony Yatar (in white shirt) and her classmates Harmony Yatar (in white shirt) and her classmates
Grace Kam (on right) with her classmates Grace Kam (on right) with her classmates

The creative juices are overflowing at Moanalua Middle School.

From personal chefs to musicians to manicurists, a robotics class has created it all and its instructor Robert Walker makes sure his students take a hands-on approach.

His students have built dozens of robots over the years and their creations are the product of the school's Innovative Inventions course.  It's a three-month class that pushes students to expand their minds and construct working robots.

"From day one, I hire them as if they are on the job," said Walker, who has been teaching the course for the past three years. "Their grade is their pay. We sign a contract too. Most of them are my ideas, but they run with them and they do 90-95 percent of the invention."

His students have run pretty far. They've created dozens of robots with practical uses including finger-nail painting and cooking.  

There's even a robot that plays the ukulele.

"The robots he showed us from his previous students were all basic kind of ones and we wanted to do one that was unique, so we did a music one," said Harmony Yatar, an eighth-grader who helped build an ukulele-playing robot.

The class is not only about building robots, but crafting professional skills.  Students are assigned to groups at random, so they're forced to know each other and work together.

"I mean when you first got the assignment, it was kind of like, 'Whoa!, what are we supposed to do?,' said eighth-grader Grace Kam.  "But then as we kind of worked on it, we kind of grew as family basically."

Walker hasn't entered the robots into any competitions.  Instead, he's hoping some of the bots get picked up by any company to use as a prototype.  He says any money made would fund his students' college education.

"It's so rewarding," Walker said. "One thing we instill here at the school here is critically thinking and problem solving.  Even though they are done with education after college, they still have to be able to problem solve and critically think, and their education never ends."


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