CARLSBAD — Drones to gardens, a new Maker’s Club at the Army and Navy Academy, is on a mission to aid the school in new ways.
The student-run club was the brainchild of several cadets including 15-year-old sophomore Niko Aue, who approached teachers Kevin Moss (aviation) and Malcom Muter (computer science) last year about starting a club specific to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
The two instructors jumped on board and held the club’s first meeting Sept. 26. The goal, they said, is to empower the cadets to take ownership of the program.
“At the core of it, we want to introduce a place where they’re in charge,” Muter said. “And they can fail and learn from those failures … and give them the opportunity to learn from those mistakes.”
Moss and Muter brought two potential projects to the club during its meeting. One is collaborating with the gardening club to install an irrigation system controlled wirelessly. The other is connecting the bell system from the west campus to the east side.
Currently, the east campus, including Moss’ room, does not have a functioning bell system, so the retired Marine uses the alarm on his phone to dismiss classes. Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars, Moss suggested the club take on the project.
However, he and Muter stressed if those projects are not something the cadets want to take on, they are free to come up with their own.
“It’s our attempt to head down to robotics,” Moss said. “Our first few projects, we’re putting it out to the campus … the Maker’s Club will come take a look and see if we can solve the solution.”
Moss is also the school’s aviation instructor and is tying in the Maker’s Club with his Aviation Club. The two are a natural fit, the former Marine pilot said, as so much of aviation centers on physics, math, engineering and more.
Several cadets are in both clubs and Aue said it will help him with his wanting to learn about solving real-world problems and aviation.
Cadet Adam Friedman, a 16-year-old junior, said his interest in STEM comes from his father, who has always been fascinated with technology. Both said the club will help with developing their career paths.
“There are so many different factors in aviation that also apply to almost any other STEM field,” Aue said.
In addition to Moss and Muter, Moss said English teacher Kim Frazier will be part of the mix as well. Moss said English adds a component some may not realize, problem-solving skills.
Physics teacher Chris Johnson will also support the club with his expertise in the subject.
With the addition of Frazier and Johnson, the four are building small and hope to grow the club into a more competitive environment through robotics. Thousands of high schools nationwide, including Carlsbad and Sage Creek, participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition, which challenges students to solve real-world problems through STEM and robotics.
“We want to get into the robotics mindset and competitions,” Moss said. “We see it as collaborative with other subject matters.”