Upper Iowa University PTAG, NFV Middle School create success through mentorship

FAYETTE, Iowa (December 17, 2014) – Upper Iowa University’s Peacocks Technology And Gaming (PTAG) student group at the Fayette campus recently helped pupils from North Fayette Valley Middle School win the regional round of the First Lego League. PTAG was introduced to the project by its advisor, Dr. James Jacobs, who works with students from these age groups during the summer and was contacted by Julie Frieden from NFV. The UIU students met with them on Mondays for an hour and a half since the end of September.

PTAG aims to gather students who share an interest in gaming and technology. Through this project, it was able to transmit this passion to NFV Middle School students.

The first part of the project is Core Values, an interview for which PTAG coached the kids. They were asked various questions about their objectives and what they hope to get out of the competition. Then, the pupils presented their invention, called RTAB, the Real-Time Assessment Bracelet. The device would allow teachers to see how students perform on their in-class tasks in real-time, and help provide relevant content personalized for each student. This idea was the brain-child of the cooperation between NFV and UIU students. The PTAG members were most involved in teaching how to create the software needed for the bracelet, introducing the middle-schoolers to software programing. Although they only need to present the idea at the regional level of the competition, the students expect to have a functional prototype ready for the state championship on January 17. The third part of the contest, dubbed “Robot Game,” required the students to assemble and program a device to go through a pre-designed obstacle course while achieving specific tasks, such as lifting, shooting, or rotating different objects.

“It has been a pleasure to see the students work together and I hope to continue the success and expand the outreach to other schools in the future” said Jacobs. Both NFV and UIU professors were also very proud to see all that their mentees had accomplished in such short time ̶ creating a professional presentation, programing and building a robot, as well as inventing a whole new product!

While PTAG works with middle-schoolers for the First Lego League, it also works with high-schoolers for the First Tech Challenge, and they hope to start working with upper-classmen on the First Robotics Competition very soon. PTAG meets in the Edgar Fine Arts building on Wednesdays at 6:30 pm during the school year.

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