Students Build LEGO Mindstorm Robots to Stimulate Interest in Engineering and Technology Careers at DCCC STEM Camp
July 17, 2014 – Ninety elementary and middle school students are discovering that exploring engineering careers and technology is a lot of fun if you get to build a robot in the process. The students are participants in STEM Camp at Davidson County Community College, which is designed to stimulate an interest in science, technology, engineering and math.
Participants are learning to program robots using LEGO Mindstorm kits. In addition, they are learning innovative engineering design techniques as they build bridges from plastic foam and balsa wood. The exercises help the students develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills as they are presented with various engineering challenges.
“Our focus this week is to engage students using real world, hands-on activities,” says Anissa Causey, project coordinator. “As we make science and math fun, not only do we help students to learn, but this experience could also ‘plant the seed of interest’ that could grow into an exciting and rewarding STEM career.”
Participant Logan Hegler of Lexington, a rising fifth-grader at Davis-Townsend Elementary School, gave an excited fist pump Wednesday as his team’s robot passed its latest light sound test. Like similar real world engineering experiences, this was one small victory on the way to accomplishing the ultimate goal of a fully functioning robot.
“We’ve got to put a little more into it,” Logan said to his project teammates as they headed back to their computer workstation. Teamwork, he explains, has been his favorite part of STEM Camp since each member has different strong points that help in successfully building and programming a robot.
Learning about light sensors has been the most enjoyable part of camp for Carli Isom, an E. Lawson Brown Middle School rising eighth-grader.
“I think it’s so cool that the robot can sense where it’s going just because of the light,” Carli says. “It’s amazing that you can build a robot out of LEGOs. I had no idea you could do that.”
STEM Camp concludes on Friday with a competition from 1-3 p.m. in Brinkley Gym among the three-member teams as they demonstrate the skills they have learned throughout the week. The teams will be presented challenges they must complete within a few minutes by taking on the roles of structural engineers, mechanical engineers and programmers.
Local industry support has provided area students the opportunity to attend camp at an affordable cost. PPG Industries, ASCO Power Technologies and Thomas Built Buses are sponsors for this year’s camp.
During the week of June 23, DCCC hosted a STEM Jr. Camp for rising first- through third-graders. For more information about DCCC camps visit http://www.davidsonccc.edu/camps.
*Editor’s Note: In the first photo, Logan Hegler tests the light sensors on his LEGO Mindstorm robot. In the second photo, pictured from left to right are Carli Isom, Keely Savage and Johnny Krieger, who are discussing plans for building their robot.
Founded in 1963, Davidson County Community College is noted for its quality educational programs and services. As one of 58 institutions within the North Carolina Community College System, DCCC offers studies in more than 50 degree programs. A fully-accredited, multi-campus college, DCCC celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 and is looking forward to serving students in Davidson and Davie counties for many years to come. The college is committed to developing minds, inspiring imaginations, and preparing students for enhanced career and educational opportunities within a changing global environment. Visit Davidson County Community College on the Web at davidsonccc.edu.