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Youngsters learn it takes a disciplined approach to control robots

One small error in programming can cause a robot to "go crazy" -- or do nothing at all.

Children who attended the RoboTech NXT camp at Fort Discovery last week learned that firsthand.

"Programming is easy once you do it for a while, but you can't think it's too easy. You have to make sure every detail is right, because if it isn't the robots go crazy. They just go berserk," said Edward Rice, 12, a second-year camp participant.

He enjoyed correcting kinks in his programming and is thinking about a career in robotics.

"I like challenges," he said. "That makes it fun."

The weeklong camp taught children ages 11-13 about robotics using Lego Mindstorms kits.

"These are very advanced robot kits, but the program is basic enough for kids this age to grasp," said Andrew Rauch, co-instructor. "There is so much that can be done with these kits. It doesn't get any easier than this."

Throughout the week, the participants completed 39 challenges with their robots. They had to build and program them to complete tasks that ranged from simple to complex.

Participants learned other lessons as well, Mr. Rauch said.

"This camp taught them about patience, teamwork, problem-solving and communication," he said.

Johnathan Flippo, 12, was excited about last week's camp.

"I like building stuff with Legos and K'Nex," he said. "This sounded like it would be something fun to do. It turned out to be really cool."

Caleb Lively also liked building robots.

"I like putting together the robot and making it do different things," said the 12-year-old. "Every challenge is different, so you get a chance to try different things."

The camp is one of many Fort Discovery has scheduled this summer. For more information, visit www.nscdiscovery.org.

Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or nikasha.dicks@augustachronicle.com.


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