With a considerable increase in the interest of robotics, Granbury High School is hosting not one, but two camps in July geared toward introducing incoming fourth through sixth-grade students to the technology of building and coding robots.
Last year's robotics camp extended into the school year with the program moving into the elementary schools in the district, where students built their robots and participated in competitions.
Building the robots sounds fun, but some people's eyes glaze over at the mention of "coding," and questions about it being harder than building draws a laugh from information technology teacher Angela Jumper.
With two camps, there has also been room to expand the activities in both building and coding. The goal isn't just to build a robot but to create a machine that has a function, and that can perform tasks and even play soccer.
"They will be building different mechanisms using the VEX IQ robot. They'll see how different conveyors will work. They will build an elevator," Jumper said. "We're going to build different working machines, and we'll have some contests to see who can lift the most weight and go the fastest. We'll have an obstacle course, and at the very end, we're going to have a soccer match where they play soccer with the robots they build, so they'll end up with a complete robot."
Current high school robotics students will be helping to instruct the course, and Jumper is pleased to see how they take charge.
"It solidifies many things when you teach something; you understand it in much greater detail. It solidifies their foundation going into different engineering fields as well. I have had several students that go on and take robotics in college," Jumper said. "Teaching at camps helps them with their college transcripts and their internships. They give of themselves to the community, and they've become some of our community ambassadors."
The robotics program is taking on a special mission this year in Granbury ISD, intending to reach the Special Olympics.
"We have several teams that were started last year. Most schools will still have robotics teams this year, even at the elementary levels. We're introducing a unified team in most of the schools this year, and that's going to be where the general education students pair up with special needs students and compete and mentor them to compete. Their end goal is the Special Olympics."
NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE NEEDED
Sometimes a blank slate is the very best thing for a teacher to start with, and students who don't have any experience will leave the four-day camps with a working knowledge of robotics with the goal being to continue learning the technology when school starts this fall.
"I guess the biggest goal is that they fall in love with computer science and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), and their self-confidence will be higher when they leave than when they come in,” said Jumper.
WORKING AS A TEAM
Another goal is to get students involved in working with a team.
"They will collaborate and learn how to solve problems. No matter what you're solving problems in, we build that foundation. It's exciting to see it grow. I am now reaping the results of kids going to summer camps. My team brought home a trophy from the Worlds this year – I had a student on the team that started in my summer camps. So, we have it coming full circle. Our robotics students love investing in the younger kids because that's their legacy when they leave," Jumper said.
The Robotics and Engineering Camp – is set for July 11-14 and will be held at the Granbury High School CTE building and costs $100 for the four days.
The Coding Camp will be held at the same location on July 18-21 and costs $100.
Both camps are for incoming fourth through sixth-grade students and will run from 9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. each day.
Visit www.granburyrobotics.com/junior-robotics for more information and to register.
Russell@hcnews.com | 817-573-7066 ext. 231