In the nearly two years since the inception of the Pine Belt Robotics Academy in October 2019, the organization has steadily grown its after school and summer robotics enrichment program for children in kindergarten through eighth grade.
That growth has necessitated expansion from the current location on Old Highway 11 to a new space at Anatomies, located at 120 98th Place Boulevard in Hattiesburg. Along with the move comes a name change to reflect the expansion: Pine Belt Robotics Academy and Enrichment Center.
“We’ve outgrown the current space,” said academy founder Nadine Amaya, the 2018 Mississippi VEX IQ Elementary Teacher of the Year and 2017 VEX IQ World STEM Hall of Fame Teacher of the Year.”In order to meet the interest of the students in the area, I wanted to offer some additional robotics opportunities, along with some educational enrichment programs.
“(Anatomies) was looking for a way to utilize some of the space that was not being used in their children’s section. So when I approached them about my program, they felt it was a good fit, because it fits their mission statement really well. It will be a good collaboration between the two businesses, because students that attend my programs, their parents may be interested in working out during the time their children are having classes with me.”
The move will take place just in time for the academy’s summer camps, which begin June 7. The camps last for seven weeks and consist of classes such as STEM Camp, Author Camp, Robotics Camp, Spanish Camp, Basic American Sign Language, Design Time and Chess or Scrabble.
Throughout the camps, students will use creative and thinking skills, explore VEX IQ, build and code robots, learn basic Spanish skills and more. Prices vary, depending on which package is chosen.
“I’m extremely excited, because even though the regulations for COVID are beginning to lessen, I still am very conscientious of the need to have as much social distancing as possible for students,” Amaya said. “So having the expanded space at Anatomies, with the additional labs that will be set up, I will be able to have larger camps this summer than I would have in the current location.
“And if there’s enough interest, I have a week where I will be running two camps simultaneously, because we have enough space to do that. So this is kind of our pilot summer, to see what is most successful.”
Registration for the camps can be completed online at www.pinebeltroboticsacademy.com. Additional classes will be offered in the fall.
“That (fall) information should be on the website by the end of June,” Amaya said.
To celebrate the new space, Pine Belt Robotics Academy and Enrichment Center will hold a ribbon cutting at 4 p.m. June 3 at Anatomies.
“There will be light refreshments, and there will be an opportunity for people to tour the new facility,” Amaya said. “I have to have some students present to do some demonstrations, with the different robotics activities that they did during the year.”