The Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky is benefiting from the work of a new Robotics Coordinator, Joseph Collins. In his role, Collins wears the hat of engineer and instructor, handling the day-to-day operations of the Center’s robotics programs. He is heavily involved with the design of the FIRST LEGO League tournament event and the competition season. His job is to ensure that everything goes smoothly from start to finish and he has already started preparing for this year’s tournament to be held this fall. Collins also deals with Information Technology applications at the center as well as more advanced projects such as the cameras and live feeds for the annual LEGO League tournament. Tom Cravens, Challenger Center Director, noted Collins is involved in a variety of other programs including the development and hosting of summer camp programs and the other improvements necessary for the center.
Collins stated, “I enjoy working at the Challenger Center because we are able to make a difference in the region. We are unique in the scope of our activities and that gives us a valuable perspective on education. Here we are able to observe a student’s progression through grade levels and note the changes from year to year. In doing so we can identify weaknesses that are not being addressed and we have the ability to modify our programs to target these problem areas,” he said. For example, in a recent meeting, the staff agreed that many students were struggling with Algebra. In response, the Challenger Center created the Code Breakers summer camp program where they will use logic puzzles and other activities to introduce students to Algebra concepts in a fun and engaging way. “We hope that this exposure will make them more comfortable when they encounter this information later on,” Collins said. Collins and other Challenger Staff are offering a wide variety of new College Prep workshops this summer to address high school student needs and interests.
At the Challenger Center, the staff takes education out of the classroom and gives students a chance to experience it in the real world. “I believe the single most important thing a teacher can pass on to a student is the desire to learn,” Collins said. He also has another philosophy. “We should all remember that regardless of profession or environment we should always strive to improve. We should always be conscious of opportunities and the momentum that we are building or sacrificing. The forward momentum we need to make it through tomorrow comes from an opportunity pursued today,” he said.
Collins graduated from Perry Central High School and has attended Alice Lloyd College, Eastern Kentucky University and Hazard Community and Technical College. He has worked as a Networking Engineer and before coming to the Challenger Center, he worked for AT&T as a Technical Engineer and Special Projects Manager.
Anyone interested in summer programming or other Challenger Center learning experiences located on the Hazard Campus of Hazard Community and Technical College can contact the center at (606) 487-3049.