Basic building blocks were transformed into useful machines by the aspiring engineers at Robotics Day Camp.
While a few girls had worked with robotics before, most came the first day without having done anything but the basics with Legos. Everyone found some skill they could bring to their team. Some girls had written computer code while others had helped with basic repairs at home. Others found that their experience at getting their own troop to agree on a plan of action was the most needed skill of all! Bring them all together, and girls quickly find that “work = fun!”
Each new challenge began with a warm up around a key feature – connect gear and pulley systems before building a car, or build a tower or cantilever with newspaper before designing a similar Lego structure. Small teams discussed their ideas and sketched a plan (or two plans or three) to prep for actual construction. The goal is to give every girl “the chance to build something from (her) ideas.”
And what if the car doesn’t move, the elevator doesn’t lift, or the carousel doesn’t turn? Time for a re-think. This is where it becomes important to “not be afraid to try new things.” All ideas are brought to the table, along with some helpful questions from robotics facilitators and high school robotics team members. One girl said this is where she learned “how to adjust your plans to make everyone’s plans work together.”
Once the machines are moving, teams add specialized computer programming to make their robots do what they want, eventually coordinating two robots at the same time. Seeing their robots fully functioning is very satisfying, but so is having a functioning team – the most common favorite part of camp was making new friends.
Robotics day camp is the perfect combination of “the fun challenges and seeing so many other girls I have so much in common with.”