ASAP Students Fired up About Robot Program

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PANAMA CITY - A local after-school program is helping young students get fired up about science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

Some local high school students are the ones motivating them, along with some robots.

Robots aren't just for fun and play at the After School Assistance Program (ASAP).

They're helping teach middle schoolers about communication, creativity and collaboration.

Last summer, about a dozen high school students attended a STEM summer camp, where they got hooked on building robots.

"We really need these kids to get interested in this field because it's going to be really important in the future," said Scott West, volunteer/teacher.

Now, they're sharing their love of the colorful 'bots with younger students in the ASPA program.

"It's more of a self-exploration. If you're stuck they give you a hint. It's a lot of hands off for the mentors for the adults and the kids because it's about the kids learning the stuff and I'm a kid so I'm learning along with them,"said John Hunter, 11th Grade.

Volunteers say the robots teach the pre-teens about perseverance and dedication.

West said, "I think, 'These kids are never going to get it.' They really surprise me and they do. They don't give up on the task, they make a mistake they go back and they try again and again and again.

ASAP started the robot building program in November.

More than 60 students are enrolled.