Earning High School Credits Beyond the Classroom

June 28, 2019


by Doug Robinson

Since 2010, Campbell High School First Robotics Team 3323, has been “Helping kids see their potential.”  Today, the Litchfield School Administration has developed an Extended Learning Opportunity for this grassroots school club.  Students will now be able to earn academic credits for graduation by their participation in this organization.

The academic program,  known as Extended Leaning Opportunities, “Prepares student for life after high school, to think differently and extend learning opportunities.”

“ELOs provide an opportunity to explore beyond school walls, to work with local experts, gain valuable real-world knowledge and skills, and earn high school credit,” explained Principal William Lonergan.

In addition, “ELOs address individual learning styles, talents, and interests.  They provide a hands-on way of exploring potential careers, gaining independent living skills, and providing a community service, all while earning elective or core credits.”

The FIRST Robotics team at Campbell High School has consistently demonstrated their commitment to “foster students’ potential in leadership and technology by building a competition robot whilst engaging with their community and spreading awareness of both the message of First Robotics and Stem fields.”

The participating 16 students from the 2019 CHS Robotics team represented all the high school grades.  They collectively spent a total of 2,400 work hours on their passion.  These hours were spent learning and perfecting their craft and skills, afterschool and on weekends.

ELO course requirements state that students may earn half credit towards graduation for every 90 hours spent on the project, and students may earn one credit for every 180 hours spent on the project.

Students, in addition to learning how to build the robot, also spent their time learning the skills necessary to market, prepare budgets, understand the complexities of computer science, and develop computer programs from those learned skills.

Known within Campbell High School as Potential Energy Team 3323, “they are the only robotic Litchfield team participating in the FIRST Robotics Competition.”

“The FIRST Robotics competition team is part of an international group of students engaged in a mentor-based program that build science, engineering, technology, and business skills that inspire innovation and prepare students to be science and technology leaders and well-rounded contributors to society,” according to FIRST Robotics.

CHS Principal Lonergan said, “The Extended Learning Opportunities program offers students the opportunity to pursue their academic passions outside the classroom. While in Litchfield we are limited to the number of businesses who are available to participate in the ELO program, we are fortunate to have many parents, staff, and educators step up and volunteer their time to work with these students.”

Lonergan continued to state, “These ELO students learned firsthand the values and complexities of what it takes to market, budget, seek sponsorships, engineer and to effectively produce a product.  And, when the project was completed, each student was required to present their project to not only the school administration, mentors, and teachers.  Some presentations took up to one and one half hours for these students to complete.”

“The students who participated in the Robotics ELO program excelled with their commitment and dedication to the learning process.  Not only did the students educate themselves in computer programming, they taught themselves the required skills of leadership and mentoring, but most of all, they learned the art of collaboration while they drove themselves to a higher level of self expectation.”