For many kids, summer vacation is a time for ice cream cones, swimming pools and trips to the beach. But for a group of middle school students who attended a robotics camp last week at Temple Ambler, summer also provided a chance to learn about science while participating in a favorite childhood pastime.
Held from June 25-29, “Lego Mindstorms NXT Robotics for Beginners” gave a group of students aged 8-14 an opportunity to boost their creativity by building robots out of Legos. Each camper was given a variety of lego pieces, including wheels, motors and sensors and an NXT brick containing a microcomputer that runs programs downloaded from the internet. They began by building a basic model, then completed a series of challenges, such as driving the robot back and forth across a wooden board as many times as possible within a minute.
According to camp instructor Seth Hogan, the program helps boost math skills by emphasizing logic, problem solving and hands-on learning.”
“I try to only give them enough [instruction] so that they can then discover for themselves — not explain the whole thing to them, but let them get hands on and figure out their own creative solutions that are sometimes better than mine.”
A teacher at Sandy Run Middle School in Dresher, Pa., Hogan knows that the best way to ensure young people learn is to create an environment in which they are having fun at the same time.
“It has some educational value but they don't realize they're learning,” said Hogan. “They enjoy the fact that's it’s not a lecture. It's not a teacher saying, ‘Here's what you do.’ It's, ‘Ok, here's a framework, and now discover for yourself and come up with your own solutions.’”