Kids learn robotics through Lego camp

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Local student Allie Livingston, who will be entering sixth grade at the Gladstone Junior High School this fall, steers a robot built out of Lego bricks around an obstacle course Thursday. Bay College and Michigan Works’ Lego Robotics Camp, which Livingston participated in, will give local students an opportunity to boost their technical knowledge and social skills this summer.

ESCANABA — Local students aged 7-12 will have an opportunity to boost their technical knowledge and social skills this summer by taking part in Bay College and Michigan Works’ Lego Robotics Camp. The first sessions of this camp for the summer of 2017 were held at Bay College’s M-TEC building June 19 through 22, and additional sessions will be held throughout the summer.

Bay College Grant Project Manager Beth Ann Belcher said this program has been offered for quite a while.

“This will be our eighth year offering the camp,” she said.

Over the course of each four-day-long session of the camp, participating students work with Lego Mindstorms EV3 kits to build functioning robots.

“These are very complex kits that actually have a computer component to them,” Belcher said. At the end of each session, students will be able to put their robots to the test by steering them around an obstacle course.

Michigan Works Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates Specialist Elizabeth Mineau said that the use of Lego bricks makes the program accessible to students.

“It’s a relatable medium for them to use and to start learning that robotic technology,” she said.

Two sessions of the camp are offered each week: one for students aged 7-9, and one for students aged 10-12. According to Belcher, students in both sessions will build replicas of a character from a popular Pixar movie.

“They are actually going to recreate the Wall-E robot,” she said. Students aged 10-12 will also build a robotic tank.

Mineau noted that the camp has given participating students an opportunity to learn more about science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics — or, as they are collectively referred to, the “STEAM” fields.

“It’s really improving their (STEAM) knowledge,” she said.

In addition to building robots, students participating in the Lego Robotics Camp are able to learn about programming.

“Even though it’s very complicated, once you get the hang of it, it is very easy,” Alex Anderson said. Anderson will be entering fourth grade at Mid Peninsula School this fall.

Additionally, Belcher said the camp has helped students hone their ability to collaborate with others.

“It helps them develop their social skills because they work in small groups together,” she said.

Allie Livingston, who will be entering sixth grade at the Gladstone Junior High School this fall, agreed with Belcher.

“You learn how to work together better,” she said.

Belcher thanked Michigan Works for their involvement with the camp.

“Without their partnership, this wouldn’t be possible,” she said.

Livingston said she would recommend the camp to other students.

“If you haven’t gone to (Lego) Robotics, you’ve missed a lot of fun,” she said.

Sessions of the Lego Robotics Camp will be held at Bay College’s Escanaba campus on the weeks of June 26, July 10, and July 17; sessions will also be held at Bay’s Iron Mountain campus on the weeks of July 31 and August 7. Registration in the camp costs $60 per student. For more information, or to register for upcoming sessions of the camp, visit www.baycollege.edu/invent.

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