Robot Masters

The robot overlords are coming. In fact, some of them are already here.

They’re already taking over at the Warren Forest Higher Education Council, so it may be just a matter of time.

Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of Warren County, 16 local youths had the opportunity this week to build and program their own robots during Lego Robotics Camp.

Space filled up fast, according to School-to-Work Coordinator John Lasher, so, with only eight robot kits available, participants in the camp were paired into teams.

“This has been our most successful camp,” Lasher said. “It filled right up. Communication and teamwork have been a big part of this.”

While the program is aimed at students in grades six and seven, Lasher said the camp was open to other age groups this year. Campers as young as ten years old were programming and building alongside other campers.

“Since it’s a new camp we kind of opened it up,” Lasher said, “to get an idea of what age groups could benefit from it.”

Students built their robots in one room and programmed them in another using a user-friendly, drag-and-drop computer application. A maze has been built in the build room and campers are working out the bugs and doing test runs on it in preparation for Friday, when their robots will have to complete the course.

“The campers have been building robots every day this week,” Lasher said.

“It’s a pretty neat set-up,” Camp Instructor Craig King said. “It worked out really well that you can do the testing in one room and programming in another.”

Campers have also gotten the opportunity to see robots in action. On Wednesday, the camp visited Betts Industries and saw robots working in an industrial setting.

The campers themselves have retained excitement about the experience.

“It’s amazing,” Josh Chimenti said. “Just making the robots and learning things on how to work with the robots, programming and testing them out to see what they can do.”

Jonah Peck agreed. “It’s exciting to see what your creations can do,” he said.

They’re not just having fun, however. They’re learning as they go.

“We’re seeing a lot of trouble-shooting as well,” Instructor Eric Schotts said. “To see the growth from the first day, it’s been exponential growth. We’re seeing skills that can translate into the workplace.”

Camper Mabrukhe Tagba summed up the week saying, “It was a lot of fun.”