Throughout the week of July 21st, the Huskies helped facilitate the DuPage Children’s Museum’s Robotics Camp. The camp taught 3rd through 5th graders the fundamentals of engineering through demonstrations involving simple machines, electronics, programming, and more. Huskie Robotics staffed the demonstrations and helped campers assemble their final project for the week, a remote control car based on principles learned throughout the camp.
On Thursday, we demonstrated our robot Annie, showing the campers a real-world application of the skills they were learning. We discussed Annie’s systems and briefly discussed how the robot worked. Noticeably thrilled by Annie, the campers were excited for the opportunity to catch a ball thrown by Annie’s shooter. After demonstrating the robot, the children seemed even more delighted by the machine’s abilities. Later, we answered the campers’ insightful questions and concluded the demonstration.
The children were grateful for the opportunity to see Annie and learn what we do. Several were already aware of the FRC program, and a few were even involved with FLL (FIRST LEGO League) programs. Hopefully, our demonstration at the DuPage Children’s Museum and the camp as a whole encouraged the campers to pursue engineering- and perhaps even involve themselves in FIRST Robotics.
On Saturday, May 17th, Huskie Robotics went to the Kane County Fair Grounds to promote STEM at the Boy Scouts Of America’s “STEM-O-RAMA”. The event was a massive celebration of science and technology, with activities in underwater robotics, neuroscience, unmanned aerial vehicles, and much more. Huskie Robotics and our robot Annie represented FIRST, alongside PWNAGE (Team 2451), a fellow FRC Team; the Titanium Ducks, an FLL Team; and got robot? (Team 5037) and Cyborg Eagles (Team 7089), local FTC teams. The booths allowed kids to have a hands on experience with the activities that FIRST offered, as they were able to catch and load a ball thrown by Annie, catch Frisbees fired by PWNAGE, watch Lego robots act autonomously, and even control an FTC robot themselves. Our team handed out information on programs that kids could join to satisfy their interest in science, technology, engineering, and math, and we are very grateful to the Boy Scouts for inviting us to help get the STEM message out.
Just because the Robotics season (and the school year) are over, doesn’t mean our outreach stops! The day of graduation, several graduating seniors (underclassmen had school) volunteered to do outreach at two local elementary schools, Scott and Highlands.
We arrived at Scott bright and early and set up in the gym to give a presentation on Annie and FIRST, as well as physics club and other ways to get involved in STEM. Our audience was over 100 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. The 4th and 5th graders had been working with Lego Mindstorms in class, so they already had some robotics background. We talked about FRC, FLL, our robot, the Physics Club balloon, other projects from Physics Club like the ping-pong ball cannon, and then took questions and demoed Annie. The kids were super excited to interact with Annie, which was expected. However, we were all stunned by the brilliant questions the kids asked. They were thoughtful, imaginative, and had more prior knowledge than we were expecting.
After the success in the assembly, we were looking forward to visiting the 4th and 5th grade classes to learn more about what they were doing with Mindstorms. Again, we were blown away by how sophisticated their understanding was. They built and programmed robots to accomplish a variety of diverse tasks (which sounds a lot like our challenge!). Seeing such young children explain things like their code and how their robots worked was very inspiring.
We then packed up and went to Highlands elementary school to give the same presentation. It was incredibly well received there as well, though only 4th and 5th graders participated. Once again, the questions were well-thought out and interesting. We also had the opportunity to talk to one of their teachers who was launching a space balloon with his class for the first time that weekend. We shared our experiences and tips for success.
FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. Even though we strive to accomplish that every day, we’re still inspired by the depth of knowledge people so young can possess. It signifies the change in culture that FIRST tries so hard to bring about, and if our experiences were any indication, robotics teams are going to be very strong in the next 5 years.