For the past two weeks, I have been volunteering at a robotics summer camp. The director had reached out to Mr. Roach about possibly having someone act as an assistant during the two week camp to help teach kids about robotics. I happened to have those two weeks off, so volunteered to help. The instructor has had experience with FIRST, as her parents judged us in the Washington competition. On the first day, she introduced the premise of Gracious Professionalism, and like FIRST programs, taught how you act like a gracious professional and what happens if you don’t. These kids were ages 10-12, and understood it quite well.
The camp used lego mindstorms, and each day had a different challenge you would complete. The first day was drag racing, then maze bots, bear bots for two days (like sumo bots), and finally a challenge like you would face in FLL, collecting blocks and earning points. On the second day, I was able to bring the demo bot I had over the summer. I told of our experiences during competition, along with the history of the team and how I got involved with it. Then I let the kids drive. They had an awesome time, and so did a crowd of spectators who were interested.
The second week was structured the same. The kids were younger, 7-9, but were equally as fun to work with. I once again brought the demo bot in, and once again let kids drive it. I had 3D printed a mini ball launcher to demonstrate the type of challenges we would complete, and the kids had fun trying it.
Overall, I think the camp was very successful. The kids loved the demo bot and the legos, but I think it goes much deeper than that. The emphasis on Gracious Professionalism and knowing almost nothing will work on the first attempt were invaluable lessons that everyone should be exposed to at a young age. I too was affected by what was taught. So often is it easy to get caught up thinking that failure is a waste of time, but I could see just how much the kids learned as they failed, and almost never did initial failure lead to overall failure, just the opposite happened. Failure lead to greater success, and that lesson was truly moving.