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Poplin Elementary students learn robotics during summer camp

Karlee Schmidt, 10, a rising fifth grader, cheers on her Robotics Team’s robot built during a recent four-day summer camp at Poplin Elementary. Also pictured, from left, are Reese McManus, 9, a rising fourth grader; Bill Kent, vice president of development of CyberKids Robotics; and Jacob Esposito, 10, a rising fifth grader.

A group of elementary students at Poplin Elementary got some real cyber experience during a recent summer camp that could pay off in career choices in the future.

During the four-day camp, students worked in teams to design and build a robot. They also had to write a computer program to make the robot travel a predetermined course laid out on a mat on the floor.

CyberKids Robotics, a non-profit education company, provided the computers, software and robotics equipment needed. The CyberKids’ staff worked with students, even helping to prepare them in the event they compete in local, state and national robotics competitions.

Bill Kent, vice president of development of CyberKids Robotics, said the purpose of the organization is to spread STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education across North Carolina. “They have to accomplish their goals in a team environment and they have to rely on the rest of their team.”

Poplin is the first elementary school to have a Robotics Team, said school principal Stephanie McManus, adding that the experience is an excellent educational tool.

“Students have the opportunity to explore science, engineering, math, concepts, skills and techniques,” McManus said. “And they learn to work together, problem solve together, build teams together and explore together so they can be better prepared as students to solve problems. These are lifelong skills that will help them as a student and future employee for our community.”

Karlee Schmidt, 10, a rising fifth grader, said she enjoyed how much the camp challenged her mind. “This camp is a great way to learn engineering and technology,” she said. “It’s also a great way to get your brain moving and to help you think harder.”

“It’s also fun,” added Reece McManus, 9, a rising fourth grader. “I enjoyed building the robots and then watching them go around the track. We programmed them on the computer and then downloaded that into the robot. Sometimes it was really funny, because it would run off-course and into a tree or off the mat.”

McManus said there are other robotics teams in the school system, all among UCPS middle school students.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Aug 17, 2010 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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