Submitted By Kristie Chen
In mid-July, local robotics team MAKbots hosted a summer camp at the Parman Library with the help of teen librarian, Ms. Marisa DeBow. The members of MAKbots prepared for weeks to ensure that the camp would be fun and educational; a place where students would learn how to design, build and program a Lego robot while working together, and eventually present their robot to their peers and parents.
The young, energetic and curious campers began the program in three separate groups. Each group was given the following parts to build a robot: a Lego Mindstorms EV3 brain, three motors, a color sensor, a few wires, and a bunch of Lego technical parts. As the groups began to explore and build their robots, the campers were exposed to many essential mechanical aspects such as caster wheels, beams, and axles, learning the functions of each. At the end of the first session, each group finished with a sturdy and stable robot base, known as a chassis.
The second session of the camp posed a few more challenges. Session instructors from MAKBots presented an overview of how to build a catapult on the robot and then let the young campers use their designs to build their own. The more “hands-on” teams built multiple catapults to see which ones worked best, whereas the more “thoughtful” teams designed their catapults several times before beginning to build. Each time, the campers made their catapults longer and stronger.
After creating the catapult, instructors introduced gears to the campers, which increased the power and speed of the arm. Finally, during the fourth session, the students learned to use the EV3 programming software to create a line tracking program. Eventually, campers’ robots came to life. They followed a black line, stopped when a red line was sensed, and shot a ball towards a target. When the students successfully completed the task, they shouted with excitement and ran around the room filled with pride and joy!
Over the four days of camp, the students experienced the satisfaction of working together to build and program amazing machines. Hopefully, this camp introduced these young students to the wonders of the future in science and technology.