Kiwanis supports classroom robotics

North Middle School students Sai Patel, second from right, and Lucas Taylor participate in a STEM robotics activity while Kiwanis Club of Tellico Village member Roger Forsyth, from left, NMS teacher Joey Breedlove and Kiwanis Club member Joe Keihm watch.

The Kiwanis Robotics/STEM program began in March 2017 when Kiwanis member Jerry Covert, Jennifer Malone, Loudon County Schools supervisor of technology/middle schools, and Chris Smallen, Lenoir City Schools chief technology officer, called principals, teachers and Kiwanians together to gauge interest for the new program.

“We began with robotics in three middle schools of Loudon County and Lenoir City,” Covert said. “... STEM students receive instruction on robotics every day at the five middle/intermediate schools and Loudon High School. We captured the hearts and minds of STEM students and parents with demonstrated accomplishments and enthusiastic student learning. They learn STEM skills needed for tomorrow’s workforce.”

An estimated 2,200 students have been trained over the three years.

Kiwanis, Provision, the family of Russ Hanson and local schools have invested more than $47,000 in the program. Mark Buckner of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Gordon Williams of Roane State Community College also contributed expertise.

“As we grow this Robotics/STEM program into Loudon High School and Lenoir City High School, our Key Club will become more actively involved in the Battle of the Bridge robotics competitions,” Covert said. “If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, a STEM mentor in the classroom or learning more about the Robotics/STEM program, please join us at the inaugural Battle of the Bridge competition.”

The competition will be 9 a.m.-2 p.m. March 6 at North Middle School. For more information or to attend, email Covert at

Ray Scott is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Tellico Village.