Spotlights
Robotics Camp: Spending the summer “building great things”
07/15/2015

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Surrounded by students busy testing and refining their robots, Chris Putnam observes, “There’s no summer slump here!”

Putnam, a technology education teacher at Hereford Middle School, and Michael Dodd-O, a technology education teacher at Hereford High School, are leading the fifth annual Hereford Zone Summer Robotics Camps. The camps, for students entering Grades 5-8, are held each morning from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Hereford Middle School.

From July 13-17, students in the Level I camp are working with VEX IQ robot systems to learn about autonomous programming in robotC language, the new VEX IQ game, and basic robot construction. On the last two days of camp, students will challenge one another in team competitions.  

The 15 participants in the level I camp all have their own individual reasons for spending their precious summer days making robots.

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“Ever since I was a little kid, I imagined building great things when I was older,” says Dylan, a Grade 6 student.

Grade 5 student Brennan explains that he is interested in learning about robotics because “I like technology and helping people. I heard about where a robot saved a person's life.”

Maryellen, a Grade 7 student, notes, “At my old school, there wasn't a robotics program. I had fun in tech. ed. class last year when we did the robotics unit and decided to learn more about it.”

Next week, 10 students will participate in a Level II camp, using VEX IQ and robotC to explore advanced programming, sensors, game strategy, and robot construction techniques. Instruction in the Level II camp will follow a learner-centered approach, with students working individually on laptops and robots.

“Our camps are open to any child, not just Baltimore County students,” says Putnam. “Each year, we have boys and girls, including students who are home-schooled or attend private schools or schools other counties, attend our camps.” This year, camp participants include students from Pennsylvania and Colorado.

“Michael Dodd-O and I are proud that we are holding our fifth annual camp and that we always have a great crew of student volunteers,” Putnam adds. “These are Hereford Zone Robotics club kids who help set up, assist in planning, offer peer mentoring, present information, and clean up when the week is done.”

The volunteers this year are Grade 12 students Joe Meseke, Will Fern, and John Seidts; Grade 11 student David Madison; Grade 9 students Zach McKennedy (just transferring to BCPS from Ontario, Canada), Carson Stephenson, and Jake Crowley; and Grade 7 student Alex Seidts.

To learn more about Hereford Zone Robotics, please visit www.hzr929.com.

Photos courtesy of Christopher Putnam, technology education teacher, Hereford Middle School.
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