Entering The World of Robotics - My Experience as a Tech Camp Teacher

Robert More is a happy customer at RobotShop and he's teaching kids at Beckwith Tech Camp. He's sharing with us his experience and the process they follow. At Beckwith Tech Camp, we believe every camper will find something that will interest them in the world of robotics.  Whether it is in the design, the build, the programming or the advertising, we lay out the tools, get them started and watch the magic happen. beckwith-tech-camp-robotshop-1


Our two favorite programs are TinkerCad and Sculptris.  In TinkerCad, the campers get a precursor to what machinists, engineers and architects work with on a regular basis.  They learn how dimensions, length, width and bases are all key in developing a good product.  In Sculptris, they get to approach with more an artistic flair and focus on learning making realistic bodies and faces.  We also like going to robotshop.com to get ideas of what current robots look like and what is new in the world of robots.    beckwith-tech-camp-robotshop-4


We will use our EV3 kits and learn how to properly build a robot for different purposes.  Within the week, we will build the robot for a drag race, navigating through an obstacle course or participate in a sumo battle.  The campers get immediate feedback as to the effectiveness of their build.  We then move into programming.   beckwith-tech-camp-robotshop-2


We start with Powder Toy where we will do simulations on circuitry, motors and network systems.  The campers then take this knowledge and start using it in their own simulations.  We then move it the Wonder apps for the Dash robot and Lego Mindstorms.  We start with Wonder Go to learn how to control remotely and then move into the Blockly language.  At this point, we match up the strong programmers with the builders and designers and work in teams.  Using the competitions from the IEEE Ottawa Robotics Competition, we then start the drag races, obstacle courses, and battle bots.  We don’t stop there, though.   beckwith-tech-camp-robotshop-5


So, we also spend time on how to document progress, writing reports, making great videos and getting the work out.  We maintain a blog and Facebook page where we will live stream our major events and post our work. beckwith-tech-camp-robotshop-3

Getting Started

We don’t just focus on hard skills, though.  In fact, we consider soft skills to be more important.  Our campers are expected to find their own solutions.  The campers can ask us for help and we will give suggestions and advice but not solutions.  Invariably, with enough time and collaboration with other campers, they will solve their own questions.  This is key.  Once they understand they can do this independently, this world becomes much less intimidating.  We also know every camper has strengths and it is our job to work with them to find which activity creates the most passion for them.  Once they find their sweet spot in the camp and believe in themselves, it is amazing to see what they accomplish by the end of the week.   And because they walk away with the knowledge to succeed, I always look forward to hearing from them one, two and five years later.  I can honestly say every camper I have ever had shocks me with what they ultimately accomplish.  Trust me, the world of robotics is in good hands.
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