Students Have Fun While Learning At LEGO F.I.R.S.T. Robotic Camp

Davidson and Shoal River Middle Schools held the third annual Lego F.I.R.S.T. Robotics Summer Camp for students going into the 4th grade – 8th grades July 28, 2014 through August 7, 2014.  The camps were run by the Davidson and Shoal River Middle Schools FIRST Lego robotics coaches, Tim Sexton and Laurie Allen. 

Camp began with a time of exploring and building simple machines and mechanisms such as levers, pulleys, pumps and valves.  Each child then participated in building and programming the latest LEGO EV3 robots to perform task.  At the end of camp, participants had the opportunity to compete using their uniquely designed robots.

“Tim Sexton and I are excited to make this North Okaloosa's 3rd annual LEGO Robotics camp,” said Laurie Allen, one of the camps organizers.  “We started this summer program to give students from Crestview, Baker and Laurel Hill an opportunity to participate in a STEM based camp close to home.  We have been very fortunate to have been supported by the Okaloosa County School District in this endeavor.”

Logan Thursday, a seventh grader at Shoal River Middle School, is a six year robotics program veteran. 

“This week we are trying to help other people learn how to program the robots,” said Logan.  “We are trying to get them interested in Lego League and trying to make sure they are having fun.”

Logan shared that Lego came out with a new series of robots this year called the EV3.  “There’s not much difference in the robots except in the programming,” he said.  “It is a little bit harder, but once you get to know it is pretty easy.”

Halle Mynard a sixth grader at Davidson Middle School, also a veteran in the robotics program, helped as a mentor this year.

“We are teaching kids how to program robots and run them,” said Halle.  “We have taught them how forward, reverse, a curve turn and a point turn.  Then we are teaching them how to use the arms, how to program to pick up hoops, and then the balls after that.”

The students had the opportunity to compete in teams with their newly programmed robots.  Using several of the Lego FIRST competitions, like Nature’s Fury, Food Factor and Senior Solutions, they had to come up with an idea to help people.

“We are going to have a board set up, and they are going to have to program their robots to make their way around the board,” said Halle.

Rhys Mistele, a sixth grader at Davidson Middle School, was a first timer at the Robotics camp however, he is not new to the robotics program and is said to be a very good programmer.

“Some people call me a little bit of a gear freak,” said Rhys.  “I am really good at making machines that involve gears and attachments.”

To Rhys, the programming system is relatively easy.  “There are actions, which you use to control the speed of your robot and how many rotations the wheels do to go forward or backwards,” he said.  “There is the turning which you can set for degrees or there is an arrow which turns, and you can set time of rotations to seconds of moving.”

While this year’s camp had a slightly lower enrollment than normal, Allen said, “We are still encouraged by the enthusiasm the students attending have brought to camp.  We use this camp to introduce or to enhance student’s ability to build, program, and problem solve using LEGO EV3 Robotics along with building team working skills.  We as always love to see the progress that these boys and girls make in the short two week camp experience.”

To see a photo gallery of this camp, please visit the OCSD Facebook page.