Norwin's Robotics Camps Ratchet Up Student Interest

Article excerpt

Technology teachers at Norwin Middle School hope underwater and outer-space adventures will bring students into the district's robotics programs.

Saturday marks the third day of the school's first five-week robotics day camp, Aquabots, which focuses on building and using computers to program robots built from Lego Mindstorm kits to solve nautical-themed problems.

The camp's theme is built around solving hypothetical problems in the Bermuda Triangle, said Matt Mincucci, middle school technology- education teacher.

"The interest in the camps has been overwhelming," Mincucci said. "We started one camp with spaces for 20 students in the morning, and that filled up instantly, so we offered a second in the afternoon, which also filled instantly.

After the second session for the Aquabots camp filled, Mincucci said, he received more calls from parents in Norwin, and a few from outside of the district, who wanted to enroll students.

"I was afraid we wouldn't have enough students to fill one camp, let alone have to turn some students down," he said.

Organizers are developing a curriculum for the second camp, which is themed around adventures in space, Mincucci said.

Each camp starts students off with tutorials on how to build and program the robots, but as it progresses, students are given less help.

"By the last day, they have to devise their own robots and programming," Mincucci said. "It's really about problem-solving at that point."

Organizers hope the five-week day camps will lead students into the high school and middle school robotics classes. …