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By Wesley Robinson
News intern, The Oldham Era
Last week’s robotics camp helped build interest in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) using an age old kid’s toy.
Area kids aged 8-14 participated in the camp half-day robotics camp from July 15-19 at Oldham County High School, which taught kids the joys of STEM fields using Legos. Fourteen high school students from seven counties, including Oldham, participated as mentors.
Jake Powell,15, a sophomore at South Oldham, said his favorite part of mentoring at the camp was the impact it can have on kids long term.
“It’s fun teaching the kids how it works, because it can be applicable and get them involved in stuff like this later on,” Powell said. The technology field is expanding crazy fast. You learn a lot, and its fun.”
Leah Nofsinger, 13, was one of the few girls at the camp. She said she got into robotics because her older brother had been involved with a club team and she started to like it.
“I like building stuff, putting it together and figuring out how it works,” Nofsinger said. “I love robotics even when it can be frustrating.”
She said she came to the camp to learn more about programming and may go into a STEM field after high school.
Colt McCoy, 15, is a homeschool student from LaGrange, who also mentored at the camp. He said he enjoys seeing the camper’s progress over the five day period.
“Robotics is fun because everything seems so complex, but you learn how to do it,” McCoy said.
Becky Rhodes coordinated the robotics camp and is the mentor for the local high school robotics team, Engineers of Tomorrow’s Team 2783, which volunteered at the camp. She said the team meets at the Cherry House in La Grange and puts on the camp to excite students in the STEM fields and help gain awareness for the engineering team’s projects.
Rhodes said students formed teams and worked with high school mentors to build, program and operate Lego robots during the camp. They also completed research projects and technical presentations to give the same type of experience kids on the robotics team get at the First Lego League national and international competitions the Engineers of Tomorrow teams participate in.
“We work with the kids where they are to take them to the next level,” Rhodes said. “We’re trying to get kids that are younger to be excited [about robotics.]”
Rhodes said she hoped the camp would help start First Lego League teams around the area. Rhodes said she started volunteering with the local robotics program 11 years ago when she was looking to get involved in activities but wasn’t really good at sports.
“It helps them learn how to work in teams,” Rhodes said. “If they aren’t in athletics, they may not have experienced teamwork. For some it’s been life changing and that’s what you want.”
The local Engineers of Tomorrow team, which also mentored campers, competed in the First Robotics League. They showed off their Frisbee-shooting robot at the end of the camp. The team had six weeks to create the robot and honed their skills in Computer Aided Drafting (CAD), fabrication, assembly, wiring, programming and operating the robot.
“The goal of our team is to teach our kids and help them prepare in STEM,” Rhodes said. “We try to prepare them and give them the training they need for STEM.”
For more information about the Local Community High School Robotics Team, Engineers of Tomorrow Team 2783 visit http://www.kyeot.com/.
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