A crash course in robotics
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
Aug 19, 2013, 12:34
BLAKE BELDEN/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Kids test out their Lego robots in an arena marked off by blue tape at the Colonial Heights Community Center.
COLONIAL HEIGHTS — A group of elementary school kids tested their engineering, mechanical and problem solving skills during a four-day collision car LEGO camp at the Colonial Heights Community Center.
The camp was organized by All About Learning whose objective is to develop students’ skills and understanding of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) through fun, educational environments that encourage a level of engagement from the student.
The collision car camp began Aug. 12, where kids from third through fifth grade were given basic tutorials on the applications of simple machines and their methods in engineering and construction. After this, each kid built a designated car out of LEGOs based on an instructional template.
The following two days, kids were instructed on the concepts of gear ratios, direct vs. indirect drive and the strengths and weaknesses of a car’s weight relative to constructing a functioning and efficient LEGO vehicle for the final day’s competition. On Wednesday, they were given a chance to practice testing out their battle designs to know whether any improvements needed to be made before Thursday’s battle.
Kids were given a vast number of options and features that served as possible modifications and enhancements to their collision cars.
Kids were given a vast number of options and features that served as possible modifications and enhancements to their collision cars. The challenge is that each feature exhibits pros and cons, and the kids have to decide if the feature is worth whatever setbacks may apply.
On Thursday, the camp culminated with a challenge between two teams, separated into groups of four kids, where each team was individually responsible for designing the ultimate car (based on a multitude of battle options and features of Lego design) and then replicating that design. After placing four collision cars in a taped off arena, one in each corner, the cars were motored directly at each other, and after a certain period of time the last car remaining with the least damage or hits by the opposing car won. Each car was hooked up to a motor, wire and battery through which they were put in motion and could be controlled in a forward or backward direction.
Charlena Toliver, enrichment instructor for the program, said that this is an important opportunity for kids because it explores both the fields of science and engineering through a fun, hands-on experience.
“They learn how gears work and look at the engineering side of it through building [the cars],” Toliver said.
BLAKE BELDEN/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Kids were given a vast number of options and features that served as possible modifications and enhancements to their collision cars.
Ray Carothers, a participant in the program, said that through the program he has learned a lot about gears and mechanics.
“Well, I’ve always just liked robotics and building,” Carothers explained on why he was interested in the Lego camp.
Even though the camp led up to a competition, Toliver said that all of the kids spoke very positively towards each other and demonstrated a universal tendency to work together rather than competitively.