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Robot Enthusiasts Create and Explore

There was a lot of thinking and tinkering in the technology rooms of Massapequa High School, where more than three dozen students participated in the Summer Robotics Camp from Aug. 2-5. This year’s program was open to students entering grades 6-8.

The young engineers worked with technology teachers Keith Jones, Mike Spiritus and Matt Swanson, beginning with basic engineering and programming activities. By the fourth and final day, they were completing more complex tasks, including building their own battle bots for competition.

Students used the Lego Mindstorm robotics kits and software to build and program their robots. They gained an understanding of how the structure of the robot must work in harmony with the programmed movements to produce a successful outcome.

“This teaches them that not everything works on the first time,” said Patricia LiVecchi, supervisor of career and technical education for the Massapequa School District. “They have to go back and make changes, without getting discouraged. And when the robot does what it’s supposed to, they’re so excited.”

In addition to teaching perseverance, the robotics camp also promotes team-building and out-of-the-box thinking. Students have to work together to design and build their robots and solve problems that arise when they test their creations.

Many participants, like Nicholas C. and Ryan H., have been building with Legos all of their lives and signed up for the robotics camp to take it to the next level. Incorporating movement by building and programming robots gives them a new way to use one of their favorite toys.

“I thought it would be fun to try something new,” Ryan said, “and here I am loving this camp.”

Nicholas added that there are many careers that require computer skills, and this helps prepare him and his peers for the future.

 

Ms. LiVecchi noted that the camp is geared toward middle school students because of the wealth of opportunities to explore robotics at the secondary level, beginning with their technology classes at Berner. There are also numerous computer science and robotics courses at the high school, as well as a middle school technology club and high school robotics club. 

 

“They’re having so much fun and they don’t even realize how much they’re learning while they’re doing it,” Ms. LiVecchi said of the students at robotics camp. “You can just feel the energy in the room.”