Robodogs Robotics Camp was AMAZING!

Another year of robotics camp is in the books. We had an amazing week working with so many talented, smart, intelligent students from grades 5–8 who came to work every single day for 3 hour blocks of time to push their learning and thinking. We had students coming 30–40 minutes early to get extra work on the robot. We had students studying videos online to learn more tactics and build ideas. We had students asking questions, wondering what if I do that or this.

I was reminded about how amazing students can be when given the chance to spread their wings and fly. I was reminded that there are so many ways to go about being amazing and solving problems. I was reminded that gender and age mean absolutely nothing when we put our minds to a problem. We witnessed incoming 5th graders solve some pretty complex tasks. We watched girls knock it out of the park. We watched students of various ages coming together sharing ideas, teaching coding, helping with code.

We also witnessed and help to coach and mentor through the moments of failure. We told the students that robotics is about dealing with failure. 80% of the time is working on things that don’t work. There is a great deal of learning about oneself when something does not work for the 50th time. Students were working through the process of moving ideas from their head into the real world.

We also had students work on their speaking skills. We challenged them to articulate their thoughts, explain why the built the robots they constructed, break down their strategy for earning points, and what they hoped to achieve. We taught them that being able to communicate and articulate ideas is one of the most vital skills we can develop. If we can communicate and problem solve, then we are highly employable and can accomplish great things.

I wanted to take time to not just emphasize robotics, but to talk a bit about the lessons learned.

  1. The impossible happens….only if you try. We challenged students to do things they have never done before. Some of the students had never touched a robot. Some have never programmed before and we challenged them to build and code a robot that would solve missions. Some had experience so we pushed them to do things with code that was beyond their current level of thinking. The big theme was to do things we never thought we could. It is scary to push into this new zone of thought, but the rewards can be great if we try. The ones who were successful realized that if one idea did not work out, then they would be able to devise and create another one. Many times we give up and instead we have to keep trying.

2. Opportunity is always expanding. We must continue to learn and grow. Each day students had the opportunity to learn and grow. Some stay focused on the task at hand while some migrated to other ideas, but we all expanded and pushed our boundaries. We must remember that the physical work is not as fixed as we once thought. What schools have taught in the past are wrong because our dreams don’t need to be fixed either. The landscape of the world is changing so we can do anything we want to do.

3. Dream what doesn’t exist. Go out and build that robot that nobody thinks you can build. Go out and solve that mission that nobody thinks can be solved in a 15 hour week of camp. We had students score some incredible point values that many teams in 2013 would have loved to score during the 4 month season. I was literally blown away by what the students were able to do. Check out the scores.

4. Focus is key. Many students experienced what it means to take ownership of their work and learning. They realized that their success and setbacks was a result of them and their work. Nobody was going to do the work for them. In these moments students learn so much about themselves. Students came together to cheer one another on. When students were frustrated we watched others come to their rescue to help build them back up. Many learned a valuable lesson that the obstacles occur when we lose sight of the goals. We cannot solve all of these lessons in one camp, but the more we can immerse students in these life experiences the more opportunity they have to develop the skills and perseverance to endure.

5. Teaching is a privilege. I love having the opportunity teach coding and robotics. I honestly feel blessed to be able to do these camps and continue to have these moments to teach and learn with students each and every school year. I wish I could provide more camps and opportunities and am working to do so, but regardless I am reminded how lucky I am to work with amazing students and watch them grow and develop.

In closing, we had another amazing camp and I was reminded of these life lessons. I hope the students had the same life lessons. We now prepare for one more robotics camp where we will be building sumobots. Until then keep pushing yourselves and learning each and every single day.

Previous post about the camp.

Robodogs Robotics Camp Day 2: Perseverance

Information about our camp