By Daniel Thompson

Local 4-H chapter hosts three-day Robotics Camp at the Kimball Event Center


Jacob Misener

Front row: Kaegan Charles, Gurley; Caleb Pierce, California; Sydney Pierce, California; Samantha Bemis, Kimball; Timothy Mars, Kimball; Zac Hutchinson, Potter, and Rand Golden, Bridgeport. Middle row: Jacob Walker, Kimball; Nathaniel Mars, Kimball; Stephen Bateman; Kimball; Parker Kudebeh, Kimball; Damian Campos, Sidney; Josh Hutchinson, Potter; and Shawn Waggoner, Potter. Back row: David Selves, Kimball; Theo Smith, Sidney; Jaren Winstrom, Kimball; Ethan Bemis, Kimball; and Taylor Terrill, Kimball.

The Meadowlark room in the Kimball Event Center was filled with chatter and excitement this past week as kids participating in the 2013 4-H Robotics Camp tried to program their robots to perfectly navigate through obstacles courses that had been taped on the floor.

The camp was led by Cynthia Gill, an educator for the Kimball-Banner Extension Office. According to Gill, this is the first time they have held the event in the form of a camp.

"We've had lots of robotic workshops. Chanda DeMasters has been doing it for several years, but it's been a two or three day after school thing. We got a lot more involved with this camp running the patterns and learning the sensors so they're using a touch sensor and an ultrasonic sensor," Gill said.

The changeover from after school event to a summer camp format has even led to an increase in the number of kids that are able to participate, increasing the number of participants to 19.

The summer camp also helps kids prepare for a robotics league in the fall in which they will be taking part in competitions filled with different obstacles and scenarios to program their robots to navigate through.

"First Lego League publishes a challenge every fall. This year's challenge is called 'Nature's fury' so it's something to do with storms, but they don't give details until September 1, and the competition starts in November and runs through February. The state contest is in February. We're hoping to have a team that goes," Gill said.

According to Jaren Winstrom of Kimball, who will be part of the fall league team called the 'Kimbots' under the leadership of Dean Brosier, the different aspects to the competitions can be challenging.

"They've got obstacles like something dumps, and you have to gather chairs and pickups and rocks and whatnot. You have to move everything around, and you have to dump food on a table and stuff like that. We have to program them for that. You have to put in turns then you have to put in motion back and touch sensors," Winstrom said.

Though competitions can be challenging and take a lot of hard work in order to get the robots to perform perfectly and stay in the lines of each course, Theo Smith, a Sidney resident, looks forward to the fall league with much excitement as it not only educational but also helps him to delve deeper into his interest in robotics.

"I'm definitely looking forward to the league. It combines everything I'm interested in," Smith said.


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