Playing with robotics a popular summertime activity for young people at UND


Kate Menzies

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Playing with robotics a popular summertime activity for young people at UND

cScibot Lego Robotic Camp. Photos by Jackie Lorentz.

Camp is in session at the University of North Dakota.

To be precise, there are dozens of camps that take place at UND over the course of the summer. From the Department of Arts & Sciences to the School of Engineering & Mines, UND is the place to be this summer!

One of the camps that has proven to be popular with students is the "cScibot Lego Robotic Camp." This camp gives students the opportunity to learn about robotics, develop computer problem solving skills, and of course, have a little fun along the way.

The Ninth Annual Lego Camp is designed for students ages 9-14 and takes place at Streibel Hall. Generally, about 3-4 UND students lend their knowledge and skills to this camp every year. Throughout the camp, students learn problem solving and analytics skills through working with their robot creations.

"The campers will see other students solving the tasks in different ways, which helps reinforce that there is almost always more than one way to solve a problem," said Tom Stokke, assistant professor of computer science and director of the cScibot Lego Robotic Camp.

"The campers learn that their solutions to solving a problem are not completely right or completely wrong," Stokke said. "They learn to determine what parts of their solution are right, or that did work even when the robot doesn't successfully complete the entire task."

This, in turn, helps students improve their solutions for a task until they are able to successfully meet their goal. If a student masters a task, Stokke and his staff encourage them to seek ways to keep improving it.

The development of these skills is cleverly masked as "playing with robots." The playing includes activities such as the annual "Sumo-bot Competition" ? an epic mechanical duel where the robots are placed on a raised four-foot diameter circle and have to push the other robot off the platform.

Overall, camps like these provide valuable experience and expose students to UND's campus, but they require much time, effort and support. The UND Computer Science Department and the UND Aerospace School have been very supportive of these camps, said Stokke, and the camps wouldn't work without their assistance.

"I think it's important and valuable that the students leave here having a good feeling about their time on UND's campus," Stokke said. "I think it's critical that they keep that feeling; that they continue to enjoy going to various activities on campus, whether it's with computer science, art or athletics," said Stokke.

Other camps

Speaking of art and athletics, UND is hosting a summer art camp, soccer camp, swim summer camp, summer language processing camp and volleyball camp. In addition to the Lego camp, the Computer Science Department is also holding an Alice Animation Camp, Android App Inventor Camp and a Computer Programming Camp.

Complete list of UND summer camps

Kate Menzies University & Public Affairs student writer

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