Learning through Robotics
A pair of whiz-bang mobile creatures crafted from LEGOS is placed in the center of a circle. A signal is given and the robots advance on each other with a singular goal: push the other out of the circle and claim victory. The contest doesn’t last long, but the humans who built the robots are vocal as they root for their favorite to win.
The youthful programmers of the robots were participants in Winston-Salem State University’s LEGO Robotics Camp, a week-long summer enrichment experience for fifth- through 11th-graders. The camp was held on the WSSU campus July 11-15.
The camp provided participants with LEGO Mindstorm kits, which contained the software and hardware needed to create customized and programmable robots. The kits included an intelligent brick computer that controls the system, a set of modular sensors and motors, and LEGO parts from the Technic line to create the mechanical systems. Through the camp, students gained hands-on engineering and programming experience that integrated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines.
“The kids learned a lot about how to program the robots and how to build robots that functioned on their own,” said Allen Brown, the camp’s instructor. “They really had fun with games like Tug-of-War, Catapults, Sumo Wrestling and Mine Sweeper.” Daniel Shegog, a rising ninth-grader from a local charter school said coming to the camp was a great experience. He plans to be either an electrical engineer or programmer in the future. “
I learned how to calibrate different sensors in the robot and my programming skills have improved,” Shegog said.
The LEGO Robotics camp is just one of the programs developed by the WSSU Center for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (CMSTE). A major goal of of the center is to increase the pool of students who graduate from North Carolina high schools and prepare them to pursue majors in science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics. The center recruits students from grades six through 12 to focus on mathematics and science careers and targets students from underrepresented populations who have not been prepared to pursue high-level mathematics and science-based courses.