Young minds on the move

robot handing out certificatesBarbara Lawlor, Nederland.  It used to be that robots were science fiction characters, hunks of metal that moved disjointedly, arms stuck out in front of them, able to go straight, left or right, and stop. A kid could only dream of ever owning one, much less understanding them.

Last Friday, July 17, after a week of participating in a robotics workshop run by a group of robotics aficionados who have been a part of the Nederland Middle Senior High School Robotics Club for years, a group of young students learned how to build a competitive robot and program it for the final test, which took place on Friday.

robots james mccoyo

Workshop leader Jake Gerecht, in his typical Pirate lingo explains, “Avast me mates!

This past week at the Nederland Community Library, the high school robotics team hosted a swashbuckling, robot-building workshop for a new crew of landlubbers. After getting their feet wet with a few sets of simple snap-together kits, the assembled crew moved on to building a Sparkfun RedBot, a simple yet durable design that comes with a fully programmable Arduino motherboard.”

robots team

The students had a blast putting the RedBot together, and soon had the two-wheeled bot speeding around the room while the kids got the feel of what works and whatdoesn’t.

But, says Gerecht. it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Rough seas lay ahead of the landlubbers: “A dastardly obstacle course, with a twisting route comprised of sharp turns and perplexing roundabouts. But the kids rose to the challenge using the RedBot’s built-in infrared sensors to navigate a safe passage.”

robots green things

The week was filled with three different teams each working on a robot. They named them Bosson, the Little Timmy, and the Leroy Jenkins. Zach Weiner said he a lot of fun during the week. “We created simple robots and then the more complex programmed ones once we learned how to do it. Our team did pretty well in the final competition because our robot, Little Tommy, had already completed the obstacle course.

Archer O’Brien, a member of the Leroy Jenkins team, said, “We worked well as a team and got to know each other.”

A summer workshop on building a robot could very well be the way to bring in the younger students who are curious about the technology and want to learn more—a step into their future.

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.