West Linn High School robotics team introduces kids to STEAM
Oliver Knapick loves anything that has to do with circuit boards.
"Software, wiring....building robotics — I love it all," the incoming Rosemont Ridge Middle School eighth grader said.
His passion for engineering led him to spend the last few weeks of his summer vacation inside the laboratory at West Linn High School.
From Aug. 1-5, the WLHS robotics team, 2BDetermined, hosted its annual Summer of STEAM camp. The weeklong camp was open to incoming eighth and ninth graders in the school district who are interested in learning more about science, technology, engineering, art and math through hands-on activities. The team and campers ended the week with a jet boat ride on the Willamette River.
"Our motivation for creating this camp was because we thought it was really important to expose kids to all these different elements and just STEAM in general," said robotics team member Dylan Nguyen.
Campers were introduced to electrical circuits, drones and pneumatic rockets through various stations. Each lesson taught the younger students the value of STEAM in their everyday lives.
Just outside of the laboratory, incoming sophomore Katie Olson led a group of campers through the construction of air-powered rockets. Olson said the station taught the younger students about the trial-and-error process.
Behind her, a camper attempted to shoot off their rocket with the help of a launcher. With a loud pop, the rocket flew a few feet upward and towards the baseball fields, but disassembled mid-flight, hitting the ground with a small thud.
"Trial and error isn't just an important skill to learn for life, but it also is important...in engineering," Olson said.
The variety of activities was also selected in hopes that the younger campers would find their niche.
"There's a lot of things that people might be interested in and we really wanted to nail all those points so that they might find something they might love," Nguyen said. "Middle school is a super critical time because this is where they'll start to find their passions, and when they get into high school they'll already have an idea of what classes and clubs to take and how to make their high school life a lot more enjoyable because they are doing something they love."
Behind the robotics laboratory, a group of campers took what they learned during the camp to new heights.
With a remote control, Knapick glided a small drone in swivels across the newly-manicured football field.
Beside him, Rai Hin ran below the flying object, instructing Knapick to fly it through the goalposts. Hin, a rising freshman, said she joined the camp because she wanted to explore some of her STEAM-based interests.
"I've always been very interested in robotics and especially since I'm now going into high school, I wanted to see what it was like and have some experience in the lab," she said,
With a flick of his thumb over the remote, Knapick amped the speed of the flying disc. The drone coasted through the goalposts before looping back toward the campers.
"I've watched the (WLHS) robotics team compete on television for years and so I am very excited to join the team," Knapick said.
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