This past July I had the pleasure of delivering on a promise to our Burlington robotics community by running our first two-week robotics camp for elementary students. Using experiences from last year’s programming/robotics hybrid and some intriguing challenges provided by Damien Kee’s “Classroom Activities for the Busy Teacher” students were engaged from day one despite a steep learning curve for several students being thrown into the coding and constructing fire for the first time.
The camp could not have seen the success it did without considerable help from our BHS Robotix high school volunteers. The value of student involvement in summer programs can not be oversold. Not only did these high school students help facilitate the day’s activities, (from troubleshooting programming snafus to participating in snack and recess duty) they did so with a smile on their faces, providing valuable mentorship and models for younger students. When elementary kids engage with middle and high school youth you can see the community fabric strengthen and the walls between schools blur. Just as our Robotix team members had hoped, students left our camps on the final day eager to participate in First Lego League elementary programs and with dreams of someday participating in the national championships on their own BHS Robotix team, just as they had seen in a presentation shared earlier in the week.
Not everything went exactly to plan. Some of the “MEGA challenges” posed on the last two days were a bit too much for students given the time constraints and limited experience with the mechanical components of the lego kits. That being said, the level of expectation led to many groups reaching much higher than the facilitating adults (myself included) anticipated they would reach by camp’s conclusion! I’m crossing my fingers that by next year LEGO will also have an iPad app out for programming to limit the demands put on our computer lab space.
To see a complete spread of photos from our camp and community brief on the camp, check out the Burlington Science Center post here.