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Workshop introduces students to robotics

September 1, 2012
GARRETT NEESE - Houghton Daily Mining Gazette , The Mining Journal

HOUGHTON - Houghton Middle School students got a crash course in building Lego robots in a workshop earlier this week.

The workshops were put on by Houghton High School senior and Boy Scout James DeClerck, who did it for his Eagle Scout project. Seventeen Houghton students from fourth through sixth grade took part in the workshop, which was designed to introduce students to the basic principles of robotics.

The program may also interest students in the elementary and middle school Lego robotics programs.

Article Photos

Houghton Elementary School fifth-grade students Bryan Horning, Zachary Wagner and Hunter Bishop work on a robot at a Lego robotics workshop at Houghton Middle School earlier this week. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by Garrett Neese)

"Some of them are planning on joining," he said.

Half of the students worked to assemble a robot capable of carrying a 4-inch-wide ball and putting it into a milk crate. DeClerck said along with that, were tutorials in logic programming and truth tables.

The others went through different scenarios pretending to be robots. A robot with no sensors had little guidance. They were given a bare-bones set of instructions: Walk a certain number of steps here, make a 90-degree turn here, walk another number of steps, then make a 180-degree turn. The end result - at least ideally - was the student sitting safely in the seat.

To get in the mindset of a robot equipped with only touch sensors, they donned blindfolds and walked along a row of lockers. In the most well-developed robots, they used PVC pipe to simulate light sensors.

Melody Doig, advisor for the middle school Lego robotics program, said she is going to be able to restart the elementary school program, which had been dormant for a few years.

"Whatever team they're on, they're all going to come in with a basic understanding of the robot," she said.

Fifth-grade student Olivia Witting said she would consider joining. So far, the workshop had been fun, she said.

"I just kind of like robotics. ... My dad found out about this and he signed me up," she said.

Galen Resch Chimner said he had an NXT at home, and wanted to learn more about programming it. The workshop had already given him some good information about the structure of robots, he said.

"That's going to help me learn and make my robot better at home," he said.



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