The Lock Haven University Business and Computer Science department held a weeklong Robotics Camp for middle school students from June 26th-30th. Seventeen students from Keystone Central School District took part in the camp that provided hands-on experience in building and programming simple functional robots.
“Robots today work all day building cars, smelting iron, baking cookies, shipping mail orders, and even making sandwiches at fast food restaurants, among other things. In this age of hard-automation, robots are becoming an essential part of manufacturing,” says Dr. Krish Pillai, Associate Professor of Computer Science.
The Robotics Camp was a joint effort by Lock Haven University, Penn State Extension’s Clinton County 4-H Program, the Ross Library, and the Lock Haven Area YMCA. The Ross Library provided the EV3 Robots, and Lock Haven University provided the lab and instructional resources to make this workshop possible. The students were enrolled in the school-age summer program offered by the YMCA.
As an introduction to problem solving, each team built a robot and programmed it to complete specific challenges. The tasks involved the simulation of traffic patterns in a school zone, running laps in the fastest possible way, and a Sumo Wrestling contest. Participants found the camp entertaining and educational. Jocelyn Sproat, 11, attended the robotics program. Jocelyn said she, “enjoyed the Sumo Bot fighting,” and noted that Dr. Pillai would, “check if we understood everything” throughout each activity to make sure that participants were mastering the challenges.
The activities were designed and taught by Pillai. Teaching assistants Caroline Rublein, Assunta DeSanto, and Jacob Gates helped with the instruction.
The University plans to provide this camp to the Lock Haven community every summer by continuing to partner with the YMCA and Penn State Extension’s 4-H Program. The camp is designed to provide participants with a unique perspective on computer science. They also receive an introduction to what it would be like to pursue a college major and a career in computer science.
“Modern industry needs a workforce that can build and instruct machines to do certain traditional jobs faster and better than any human ever could, making computer science a growing field,” says Pillai. The University currently has a Robotics Club and offers courses in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at the undergraduate level, including opportunities for independent study in this area.
For further information, contact Dr. Krish Pillai at the LHU Department of Business and Computer Science (firstname.lastname@example.org, 570-484-2346), Chelsea Edwards at the Lock Haven Area YMCA (ChelseaE@lockhavenymca.org, 570-748-6727) or Kirsten Dubbs at Penn State Extension in Clinton County (email@example.com, 570-726-0022).
Lock Haven University is a member of Pennsylvania’s State System, the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas of study. Nearly 520,000 system alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.
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