In his middle school robotics class, imagination is just as important as math

Moanalua Middle School robotics teacher taught innovation to thousands of students

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Robert Walker saves videos of robots that his Moanalua Middle School students design and build. It’s a collection of amazing creations.

“We have a chopsticks one. We have a frisbee-throwing one. We have a lei-making one,” he said.

He estimates over the years his students have built more than 1,000 robots.

Walker wrote a curriculum on robotics he's taught to hundreds of kids who build them from scratch.

"I come up with some of the weird ideas. They come up with some of the weird ideas. They get to apply math and sciences and they get to have fun when they do it," he said.

Recently, some of his students built a table top version of a car wash that washed, dried and polished a model-sized car.

"I think it was turning your imagination into reality. That was the hardest part," student Kaitlyn Takasawa said.

A few years ago, some students built a boxing robot that sparred with a speed bag. Cedric Adversalo is now a senior in high school and remembers the lessons he learned working on the project.

“It just knocked people out of the park. Sometimes, it amazes me. I can’t believe it’s really that good,” he said.

Walker’s teaching methods not only inspire students to build robots but also encourage them to never give up.

"I think the coolest thing is the interaction between people and how we have human to human work ethic," eighth-grader Dakota-Wayne English said.

"They get life skills and workplace skills, collaboration skills, communication skills. And they win because they're ready for real life," Walker said.

A couple of times his students' robots outperformed machines built by students at Stanford and Cornell.

Not bad for middle-schoolers.

“That’s your paycheck,” he said. “Money burns. That stays in your heart forever.”

Walker’s taught industrial arts for 34 years. This year will be the last year he’s in the classroom: He’s retiring.

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