By Sue Moore
Schoolcraft’s high school robotics team is coached by Donya Dobbin, the school’s 9th grade physics teacher who also teaches algebra and courses in the Middle School. The robotics club finished 10th out of 35 in a fall event at Constantine. It also won a control award, had a great time and learned a lot, she said. The initial robot is built with Lego-like objects and the students program it, then perform with it in competition.
Dobbin is gearing up for the high school robotics competition which begins on January 10 with a kickoff “reveal” to be viewed by all robotics club members across the US. It is a totally different design from 2019, with six weeks to build it out before the round of competitions begin.
“The energy is huge at these events although it makes for long days,” Dobbin said. “We build in Greg Sampley’s barn, where he helps with the fabrication. Some students just want to do that part. Others do an animation video while other kids do the programming. I can’t program at all, so a volunteer from Western Michigan University has been helping with that.”
Dobbin loves physics and has her degree from WMU in science education, a master’s degree in physics and a doctorate in math. She began her teaching career in Lakeview schools and was recruited by Superintendent Rusty Stitt to teach in Schoolcraft for the last six years while a resident of Scotts. Her favorite sport is playing pool and she admits she is pretty good at it, because it involves physics. She even joined a league to keep her game going strong.
One of her middle school students wrote, “Robotics is so much fun. It’s nice to have a club at school that involves coding and building.” Dobbin is grateful for all of the support volunteers have provided these children, “especially for people who want to do that stuff for their career.”
John Chapin is one of those who helped to put the $10,000 budget over the top and save the program, she said. He works at Bosch, which donated $5,000 because of his outreach. Denso also donated $1,000 to the middle school robotics program, which had a budget of $2,000 last year.