Kids at JEI starting their first robot.
Our first robotics program in JEI Academy started out on Monday with
the kids building their first robots. They started out with a brief overview of what each piece of the robotics set was made out of. Afterwards, they chose which robot to build, and off they went – their first foray into robotics for many. After everyone’s robot was finished, all the kids were excited to get their robot to move. All of our great group leaders taught our students how to move the robot with the onboard motor control, then we got into programming. At first, the students struggled with understanding programming concepts, but gradually, they made their robot move around a box and move in a figure 8, a considerable improvement from the beginning of the first day, when they had no idea about what a robot even was!
Even though the previous day was hard, all of the students came back the next day, and the next day, and the next day to continue their robotics adventure. We breezed ahead of schedule and went over sensors and worked on grabbing objects while sensing rooms or circles drawn on the floor. Through a mixture of building and programming projects, the students learned about best building practices and best programming practices. Our students were enjoying the class so much that we even began some unplanned enrichment, teaching the students how to follow lines, a fairly advanced topic. It’s really amazing that they had come so far in just three days of robotics, starting from a mostly blank slate to a state that was fairly advanced.
A robot designed to pick up a loop
Kids inspecting a loop and building a hook
Now that our students had been equipped with the skills that they needed to start building and programming by themselves, we started our big project, the BattleBot project. A buzz of activity emanated from the middle of the group, with the sounds of pieces snapping together, taps of the keyboard, and clicks of the mouse. As they began running tests of their robot, they started to cheer when their robot knocked another robot out of the round. Everyone had to be dragged back home, dizzy with anticipation of the next day.
Kids crowd around the 3D printer as Eddie introduces the concept of 3D printing.
Finally, competition day came. Everyone rushed to make some last-minute adjustments, and competition rounds began. As robot after robot was knocked out of the round, loud cheering was heard. After the competition, as an extra tidbit, the winners were given a 3D Printed trophy, followed by a quick lesson on 3D Printing. As we waved goodbye for the last time, I couldn’t help but think about how far our students have come in just five days of robotics. We wish all of them luck in the future with robotics!