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Computer science hosts robotics camp for local kids

Published August 23, 2004; Category: ARTS AND SCIENCES

Dartmouth hosted a robotics camp in July for 12 local middle-school children, who designed, built and programmed robots and tested them on obstacle courses. The camp was sponsored by the computer science department.


Esra Kuehlert, 11 (left); Ryosuke Minami, 9 (center); and Rachel Woods, 12 (right), watch Woods's robot navigate an obstacle course in the robotics laboratory at Sudikoff as part of a summer camp. (Photo by Amanda Weatherman)

The program coordinator, Suzanne Thompson, developed the program with Ed Wei '03, a graduate student in computer science, and engineering researchers Vince Berk and Naomi Fox. The robots were made from the Lego Mindstorms Robotics Invention System. The kits came with a microcomputer - the equivalent of a brain - called RCX; a child-friendly programming software; and building pieces like wheels, motors and tracks.

A maze with blue tape on yellow paper tested light-sensor robots: their task was to navigate through it, staying on the yellow portions. Touch-sensor robots underwent another challenge: they had to pass a obstacle course that organizers changed each day, built with Legos and other objects, changing directions when they hit large obstacles and climbing over small ones.

"The students really enjoyed the interactive and kinesthetic learning," Thompson said.

"I liked the camp because we didn't just talk all the time," Rachel Woods said. "You can make whatever you want, and you can also ask for help."

By SHIORI OKAZAKI '04

Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 12/17/08