2015 Spring Camp Eureka! LEGO NXT

Day 1, 3/16/2015

March 16th was the first day of our 2015 Spring Camp Eureka! We welcomed 14 young students to our classroom to learn the basics of robotics through the LEGO NXT Mindstorm platform.

To start off the day, we went over a few house rules, and proceeded with an icebreaker to have the students get to know each other, as well as the mentors. Each mentor and student was to introduce themselves by saying their name, school, grade, age, and their favorite food. We learned that we had many interesting favorite foods among our class.

After introductions, we had the students write in their journals about themselves, what they know about robotics, and a robot that they would like to design to benefit the world.

Finally,we introduced them to their first challenge, and  had them begin building their robot. The objective of the day was to build a robot with two motors that would maneuver through a maze. The maze is a simple course on the floor outlined by tape. Teams will be competing to see who can run through the maze the fastest. However, they will get points deducted for every time they cross the tape. The students are challenged to choose if they want their robot to be fast so they can finish quick, or slow, so they can control their robot and avoid the tape.

The students then split up into teams of two  with a designated mentor. The teams were then given two motors, a robot brain, controller, and access to whatever other parts they needed. Because there are only two motors provided, teams would have to think of creative ways to power their robot.

This camp we were able to see some pretty unique designs. Some teams finished and were able to start on programming their NXT to go through the maze.

Next class, the students will be competing in the maze challenge to see who built the best robot for the task. Then we will introduce them to the next challenge.

Day 2, 3/17/2015

March 17th was the second day of our 2015 Spring Camp Eureka!

Today the kids got straight to work to complete the maze challenge. For this challenge, teams must measure how much each of their motors turn to complete each turn and straight, regurgitate the measurements in their program, arrange the instructions in proper order, test the program, and assess any errors. Because the NXT programming follows completely autonomous instructions, extremely precise measurements are needed. Unfortunately, many teams found flaws in their original designs, and had to rebuild their robot to better suite the challenge.

At the end of the day, many teams were almost done, but not quite, so we decided to extend the maze competition until next class. Next class, after a short period of time to make final adjustments to their program, teams will compete in the maze competition.

Day 3, 3/18/2015

March 18th was the third day of our 2015 Spring Camp Eureka!

Today we decided to start the day with a little ice breaker. We had everyone take their pencils and march out to the field outside. Here we played the game “I love my neighbor”. In this game everyone stands in a circle, marking their place with a pencil except for one person, who stands at the center of the circle. The person in the center would then say, “I love my neighbor who…” and state a certain characteristic. Everyone in the circle who fits that description must then cross the circle, and find another persons spot in the circle, marked by the previous persons pencil. We had lots of fun in this activity, and learned a lot more about each other..

Afterwards, the kids were given some time to polish up their code and compete in the maze challenge. All teams performed well.

Next we setup the 2015 Spring Camp Eureka NXT Mindstorm game, introducing just a few of the missions, to gauge how well they would do.

Day 4, 3/19/2015

March 19th was the fourth day of our 2015 Spring Camp Eureka!

Today we started the day with another short activity. We went around the room and had each person say the name of an animal, starting with A, then B, and so forth. We heard some pretty interesting animals come up.

We then had the kids work on the current missions. After seeing that all groups had completed them well, we introduced the rest of the missions.

This year’s game is Recycling Adventure. Teams are to have their robot move throughout a game field moving objects to different places. Missions are based to tasks in the recycling and waste industry. For example, teams must go the the landfill, pick out recyclable waste, but leave unrecyclable waste, then take recyclable waste to the recycling plant, and also take a recycling plant agent to a school to educate children.

Day 5, 3/20/2015

March 20th was the last day, and the competition day of our 2015 Spring Camp Eureka!

Today we gave the first half of class for the kids to do anything they needed to get the maximum points, whether it be adding new attachments, or fixing up final measurements and programs.

By break time, most teams had most of their missions done, had a plan to follow, and felt overall prepared to show their parents what they had done the past week.

Eager to impress their parents, robots in hand, and a plan in mind, the students marched down to the patio, where the 2015 Spring LEGO NXT Camp Eureka competition was held.

The 2015 Spring LEGO NXT Competition game was based on the theme of recycling, inspired by our very own 2015 FRC competition game, Recycle Rush. For this game, Recycling Adventure, teams were to move lego pieces representing different parts of the recycling process, effectively teaching students the applications of robotics in this type of environment, and the engineering efforts needed to accomplish the tasks. The tasks included sorting ‘Recyclable Materials’ from a landfill while keeping ‘Waste’ in the landfill,  collecting ‘Recyclable Material’ from houses, moving ‘Recyclable Materials’ to a ‘Recycling Facility’, and transporting a ‘Recycling Facility Superintendent’ to a school to educate more children about recycling.

Overall, every group performed very well, the best groups scoring near perfect scores. It was very exciting all the way until the last team’s final missions. This camp’s competition champions were Eline Garcia and Marianne Martinez, which also happen to be the only female team this camp, showing the growth of females in engineering fields. We then celebrated the end of a long week with our delicious potluck lunch where everyone could relax and talk.

We would like to thank all of the parents, mentors, and students that made this camp possible. We hope to see you at another one of our camps, or at any other STEM related events.