Archive for Thursday, March 4, 2010

Robotics camps reach out to area schools

March 4, 2010

Robots took over the library at Rhein Benninghoven Elementary School in early February.

Students eight to 14-years old built and programmed robots at part of the Academy of Arts and Science robotic camps.

Two sessions of the lego-based robotics camp took place at the elementary the week of Feb. 8, on Monday and Tuesday then Thursday and Friday from 3:15 to 6:15 p.m.

While, the Academy has been teaching robotics for several years, this was the first camp designed to be transported to area schools, said Karen Wartko, instructor and director of the Academy.

Students worked in groups to build and program their robots to complete various tasks.

The introductory camp teaches students about Engineering principles, and introduces them to working with robots, said Stacey Bienhoff, program manager.

“It’s about team building skills and taking something they are sort of familiar with, the legos, and turning it into a robot,” she said.

The familiar medium allows the student to comprehend the building and programming techniques.

Dakota Hulse, sixth grader at Benninghoven, said his team built their robot on Thursday, the first day of the second session, and began programming it Friday afternoon.

“It’s not as complicated as people would think,” he said. “You’re using blocks and programs them to make a certain number of rotations.”

Steven Hein, Benninghoven sixth-grader, said his favorite part about the camp was building the robot, but he had the urge to keep adding to the robots parts.

“I think kids that have self control and know how to not go over board would really like the camp,” he said.

Wartko said about 33 students attended the camps last week.

“We had a team competition at the end and the parents were thrilled and many said they wished there were more science program opportunities for elementary aged kids,” she said.

Beinhoff said students have so many opportunities to play on sports teams, but there aren’t as many science oriented teams.

“The kids were so excited,” Beinhoff said of the camps.

The students were split into teams of four or so students for the duration of the camp. They came up with team names, made visors and receive shirts.

Wartko said the Academy had camps Feb. 23 and 24 and Feb. 25 and 26 at Mill Creek Elementary. Camps were $65 for a two-day session and include a shirt.

Camps will also be held over spring break at PowerPlay in Shawnee, she said.

The spring break session is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 17 and 18. The session cost is $165 for and includes lunch and one attraction and game play each day.

Wartko said the Academy is working to establish more camps throughout the area.

“We hope to bring the robotics program to all the Shawnee Mission Schools,” Wartko said.

For more information on camps visit


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