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4-H Robot Camp helps kids learn about robotics technology

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Joel VandeLune, left, and Braydon Clyde, right, watch the robot as team member Mason Timmerman gets ready to drop the ping pong ball in the cone at Robot Camp for Kids! sponsored by the ISU Extension 4-H Youth Development Program and held at the Cherokee Middle School. See more Robot Camp photos in the "February Area Happenings" Photo Gallery.
Last week 12 students from the Cherokee Middle School's 5th and 6th grade youth found their engineering and creative skills from participating in a "Robot Camp for Kids!" sponsored by the ISU Extension 4-H Youth Development Program.

The four-hour 4-H technology camp involved youth from the Cherokee Community School District.

The Robot Camp experience is designed to build interest in engineering, science, technology and math, said ISU Extension 4-H Youth Field Specialist, Carol Ehlers. Campers built and operated their robots through a 10-foot obstacle course.

In the midst of having fun the campers learned robot design and mechanics. The camp's challenge activity allowed campers to custom design their robots to pick-up and move objects like a ping-pong ball.

"We know the importance of science and technology is growing," says Carol Ehlers, 4-H Youth Development Specialist, with Iowa State University Extension. "ISU Extension's Northwest Iowa 4-H Tech Team is gearing up to help equip youth with the skills they need to enter the 21st-century workplace."

The camp placed participants in small teams to design, build, and test their own autonomous robots using the ROBOTIX system. Robotix is a motorized, futuristic construction system built on principles of real Robotix engineering. With imaginary interlocking, interchangeable parts, motors, the campers powered and controlled their own robot creations.

"Traditionally, girls shy away from exploring math, science and technology opportunities because they don't think they can excel in them, or think school classes are unrelated to what they wanted to do in their lives," said Ehlers. "This fun camp is providing girls and boys with an introduction to technology which is providing opportunities for careers in virtually every field they could hope to pursue." 60 percent of the campers were girls.

The "Robot Camp for Kids!" is a part of an Iowa 4-H initiative. The NW 4-H Tech Team is sponsored by ISU Extension 4-H Youth Development Program, ISU Robotics Club, ISU Extension Science Engineering and Technology program and a grant from Rockwell-Collins.

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