July 30, 2005
'I, Robot' Comes to Marshall University with LEGO, Duplo Camps
By Chris Spencer Huntington News Network Photographer Huntington, WV (HNN)
      Students are learning skills in LEGO and Duplo camps being held in the James E. Morrow Library at Marshall University this week, preparing them for competition and teaching them future skills. Students from third grade to high school age participate in learning how to build robots and controlling them with the latest computer technology. "They are building robots and actually programming them using language programs like those that are used in running the Mars rovers," said camp coordinator Linda Hamilton. "They are for real," she added. "The students are actually using programming language that can be used in industry and in business. The programs are like little icon boxes that work." "They have to think ahead and make the program do what they want it to do. Robots are going to do exactly what you program them to do. There are eight challenge they are supposed to do in two minutes."
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Robots are made to do tasks like rescue a squid, plant kelp, bring back an airplane and cap oxygen towers using computers. Even though the campers were having fun there is more to it than playing with toys. "This is math, science, problem solving, being able to work together and thinking about physics and engineering that they are going to need in their real lives," Hamilton said. Campers are preparing for the competition season that starts in September. Challenges are issued and teams build robots to accomplish the challenges. There are state and national competitions. Hamilton said, "The FIRST LEGO League season starts in September and the tournament is in December. They will have about eight weeks to prepare" "This is exactly like a football or baseball season," she added. "This is sports for the mind. " "It is nice to have these camps where the kids and parents can learn. The kids actually have to do the building and the programming." "This is learning how to do the RoboLab programming. What they do not realize this is an educational heavy duty school. They think of it as fun."
FIRST LEGO League Robotics teams can be sponsored by a business or a company. The cost is about $600.00. For more information contact Linda Hamilton at 304-696-7166. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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LEGO  Links of Linda Hamilton hamilton@marshall.edu
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