Tevon Smith thought the LEGO robot he got to work with during the Exploring Robotics class at Minot State University was even better than the one he built at home with some help. For one thing, it balanced on only two legs.
"I love electronics," said Tevon, who will soon turn 10.
During the College for Kids class taught by Warren Gamas, Tevon and his classmates used robotics invention kits and computers to design and program real robots that moved and acted the way they wanted them to. They programmed 32-bit microprocessors, three Interactive Servo motors, sound sensors, ultrasonic visual sensors, touch sensors and light sensors that enabled robots to move around obstacles, duck into dark corners and make a variety of creative movements.
From left, Sasha Klein, 12, Alexandra Bridgeford, 9, and Macy Lafferty, 8, look at instructions on the computer for putting together a robot.
Instructor Warren Gamas helps Isaak Johnson, left, and Tevon Smith program a robot that can move on two legs.
Colman Berg, 11, said his group had built a robotic car, programmed it to do different things and then took their creation into battle against the robot created by another group of kids. Colman and groupmates Riley Johnson and Ian Peterson were using an iPad to control the movements of their robot. Colman said he signed up because he likes LEGOs and thought the class would be fun.
Nearby, Gamas helped Eddie Fry, 10, and Allyn Newbury, 12, to program a robotic dog that barked and wiggled. Gamas said the robotics the kids were using were more sophisticated and had greater capacity than the equipment used in previous robotics classes.
The class, held June 17-19, was offered to children ages 8 to 12 and was held three hours on each of the three days of the camp. Kids were split up into groups to work on putting the robots together and to learn how to program them.
Gamas was particularly pleased that eight of the 15 children in the class last week were girls. He said it has always been a challenge to get more girls interested in science, technology, mathematics and engineering classes. He didn't do anything in particular to promote the class to the preteen girls, so he took that as a sign that the class was of equal interest to both genders. Macy Lafferty, 8, Alexandra Bridgeford, 9, and Sasha Klein, 12, agreed the class was fun but said it was a challenge to construct the robots.
Different College for Kids classes are being held at Minot State University throughout June and July. For more information about the classes being offered, class fees and which are still open, go to the College for Kids website at
(minotstateu.edu/cel) or call Amy Woodbeck at 858-3989, toll free 1-800-777-0750, ext. 3989, or e-mail Amy.Woodbeck