Will Harrison launches a paper soccer ball using a goal kicker he built at a LEGO Robotics Camp at Jeff State on Wednesday.
Will Harrison launches a paper soccer ball using a goal kicker he built at a LEGO Robotics Camp at Jeff State on Wednesday.

Archived Story

Children practice engineering at LEGO Robotics Camp

Published 5:09pm Wednesday, July 9, 2014

LEGO bricks could be the building blocks of local children’s future careers.

Ten children spent four days this week sharpening their math, science and engineering skills at LEGO Robotics Camp at Jefferson State Community College in Clanton.

“It provides some engaging activities for them,” instructor Michelle Darabaris said of the camp. “We use math, science, engineering and literature.”

Campers built different models using LEGO parts and operated them through a computer program called LEGO Education WeDo.

Models included spinning tops, pulleys and belts, drumming monkeys, flapping birds and goal kickers.

Harrison Smith, 11, said he enjoyed building models at camp since he often builds LEGO models at home for fun.

“I’m good at building LEGOs at my house,” Smith said.

While learning about gears and how they work, Smith and other campers participated in a competition Tuesday with a spinner and top to see who could keep their top spinning the longest, and Smith came in third place.

A student at Maplesville, Smith is in the gifted program and will be able to apply his camp experiences to robotics activities at school, as well as possibly his future career.

“I’m going to be a pharmacist, and I’m going to build my own store,” Smith said.

On Wednesday, campers built goal kickers and competed to see whose kicker could kick a paper ball the farthest.

After the individual kicking competition, campers used kickers and goalies they constructed to hold a soccer game.

“It introduces them to simple machines like a lever,” Darabaris said of the kicker activity. “This one incorporates momentum.”

Caleb Carpenter works on his goal kicker Wednesday at the LEGO Robotics Camp.
Caleb Carpenter works on his goal kicker Wednesday at the LEGO Robotics Camp.

Darabaris said she was impressed to hear her campers, ages 8-12, use science terms during camp.

“We’ve used force and motion vocabulary,” she said. “They understand those concepts, and they re-engineer their models to be more effective.”

Darabaris incorporated literature by having campers write stories about characters they created based on models they built.

Caleb Carpenter, 9, said he was looking forward to the last day of camp Thursday because campers would be allowed to bring LEGO models and parts from home.

Carpenter said he planned to bring a conveyer belt he built.

“I’m really excited about tomorrow,” he said.

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