ISU hosts two consecutive robotics camps

Kalani Steinmetz | Staff Writer

Kiley Schiermeyer attaches pieces to her team’s robot during the second day of the “A-Maze-Ing Robotics” camp June 19. (Photo/Kalani Steinmetz)

On June 18, 19 and 20, kids from all over Lyon County who completed fourth grade had the opportunity to attend Iowa State University’s Extension and Outreach/4-H robotics camps, “A-Maze-Ing Robotics” and “Sumo, Jousting and Line.” The children were separated into teams, or “sets,” each day for competition purposes. 

“A-Maze-Ing Robotics” camp took place June 18 and 19. The two-day camp featured building robots from LEGO-like pieces and programming them to navigate a maze using specialized programs on laptops 

On June 19, campers built robots to climb up ramps as well as visiting Maintainer Custom Bodies in Rock Rapids, a manufacturer who uses robots to build emergency rescue vehicles. There, the children learned the practical applications of robots and programming in real time. 

June 20 was the final robotics camp, “Sumo, Jousting and Line.” The kids built robots and used light-sensing capabilities available through the programming to follow along a line. Once the program was established, they used the line-following technology to host a jousting tournament where each robot was armed with a cup attached to a stick and charged with the task of knocking the cup off of the other robot’s caboose. The kids chose a name for each of their sets and held 37 matches, each a minute long.

Dagney Paskach, camp leader, ISU Extension Outreach liaison and 4-H youth development volunteer, noted the practical applications of the camps, stating there were many fields and newly-discovered technology where programming could be greatly beneficial. “These skills can be transferred into anything, specifically engineering,” she said. “Every field of engineering involves programming.” She elaborated on the new technology, especially E-textiles, which heavily rely on programming in order to fulfill its functions. “There’s applications of programming in, like, all different places,” said Paskach.

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