KINGMAN - Garret Wayman's years of experience building Lego sets came in handy last week as he helped his teammates create a Lego robot at the Kingman FIRST Robotics Lego League Summer Camp.
"This isn't difficult for me," said Wayman, 10. "I've been building with Legos almost all my life, starting when I was 5 years old, and have been expanding what I've learned since then. I've built a Lego Monster Hunters Vampire Castle and a Lego railroad that really runs. I'm having a lot of fun here, and I like learning how things work and putting them together. I've never seen anything like this before and I'm happy that I'm part of it."
Wayman was a member of the Lego Robotics Inc. group, one of four teams of boys and girls in third through fifth grade who gathered at Kingman High School to design, build, program and test robots. The other teams were The Mighty Earthbuilders, The Elements and The Enderdragons.
The robots were tested in large wooden boxes decorated with painted planets and spacecraft, where they picked up foam meteors and tinfoil asteroids. The four teams' robots competed against each other on Friday.
"This gives kids an opportunity to get more practice in science, technology, engineering and mathematics outside of the classroom," said Jody Schanaman, one of the event's organizers. "It's different from the Legos they have at home because there's a programming aspect at camp. Also, they learn the core values here of team-building and competing with healthy attitudes and respect."
Schanaman said participants also were required to research a project at home during the camp. This year's theme was using innovation in the private sector to populate space, and the teams were allowed to present their projects as a game show, television news show or with a PowerPoint presentation.
Celeste Lucier, another organizer and a teacher at Kingman Academy of Learning, said the camp gave participants the freedom to explore and use their imaginations to solve problems.
"As an educator, this camp gives validity to math, science and the language arts," said Lucier. "What they learn here ties everything together and bridges the gap between school and life. Hopefully, these children will progress to the high school robotics level. It's one more thing that will prepare them for college and a career someday."
Eva Fottrell, 9, said she attended the camp because she thought it would be fun. Fottrell, who was one of two programmers for The Enderdragons, said she has a large box of Legos at home and finds it challenging and creative to build with them.
"I like the camp because we get to build robots," said Fottrell. "Ours is working now. We had to use a lot of pieces to build it and at first, it was hard to see what it would become. I'm getting good at programming and I'm not shy about doing it. Programming isn't hard for me."
A Lego summer camp for sixth- to eighth-graders will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 22-26 at KHS. The fee is $65 and is due July 19.
For more information or to register, call Schanaman at (928) 279-5274 or Lucier at (928) 377-8586.
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