West Linn robotics team promotes curiosity with STEAM Camp
It might not have been Landon Lee's idea to attend a recent STEAM camp — his mom signed him up — but he said he was having a great time.
"I've liked every (activity) so far - it is all really fun," Lee said.
On Wednesday, Feb. 2, about 40 elementary students attended a science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) camp hosted by 2B Determined, West Linn High School's amateur robotics team. In the introductory camp, the high schoolers served as mentors for the elementary students — guiding the children in various activities.
Alongside a stuffed monkey that was tucked snugly into his zip-up jacket, Lee constructed a miniature elephant out of wood pieces that were shorn from the high school's cutter machine. The machine uses lasers to create objects from preselected designs, and a small group of elementary students watched in anticipation as the laser sliced through the thin wood.
Beside Lee, fourth grader Olivia Orth was hard at work adding stickers to her box. She said making the elephants was her favorite bit and planned on using her box to store earrings or granola bars.
While planning the camp, the robotics team added elements of art and crafts into some of the activities to show that STEAM has many opportunities for people to get creative.
"I think the camp is a cool way for kids to be introduced to (STEAM), and pique their interest," Sabrina Zhang, a ninth-grade team member said.
During the camp, the elementary students were divided into groups and participated in four activities that expanded their knowledge on elements that went into designing and constructing a robot.
Olivia McDonald, a junior on the mechanics team helped guide a group of students in designing a mini-course for an ozobot, a miniature coding robot, to follow.
Using a pre-existing template, the students picked colored squares to draw on a piece of paper. The colors signaled the miniature robot to do certain things as it maneuvered across the pathway. For instance, the color red alerted the mini robot to stop, while blue meant spin.
"This has been my favorite activity so far," said Elise Morlan, a fourth grader at Trillium Creek Primary School. "I like watching the robot moving and spinning around really fast."
Research supported by the National Science Foundation found that introducing children to STEM at a young age promotes a richer learning experience as they grow, specifically in areas related to problem-solving, communication and critical thinking.
"I joined (the camp) because I wanted to learn more about robots and I think engineering is cool," said Valerie Nugent, a fifth grader at Cedaroak Park Primary School.
Other activities included learning how to create light with LED electrons and experimenting with cubelet squares, which introduced students to constructing a robot's behavior. But learning how to drive a robot was a favorite amongst the younger students.
The robotics team will host other camps for younger students this spring and summer.
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