Robotics returns to LMCPublished 10:45am Friday, December 11, 2009
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
As the nation searches for answers to its biggest problems, Lake Michigan College is preparing many of the area’s young minds for the future with a program that teaches them not only to find solutions – but to build them.
The college announced it would once again offer robotics and fabrication classes to children and teens at its Bertrand Crossings Campus.
Classes in robotics were quite popular at the campus last summer, with students coming down to take part from as far away as Kalamazoo.
“Robotics classes and competitions are a sneaky way to have students work on something that is compelling to them,” Barbara Craig, executive dean at the Niles campus, said. “Parents report that they have never seen their students look forward to class so much. Although robots and robotic concepts will become more a part of our daily lives in the future, we acknowledge that these classes and competitions are more than just about the robots.
“Really the most important outcomes are the skills and experience the students pick up along the way in math, technology, teamwork, project management and working under pressure,” Craig said.
A five-day Lego Minstorms robot camp was held on campus last year as part of the college’s community education initiative.
Through the camp, students were provided with a kit consisting of Lego pieces needed to build a fully functioning robot, programmed through a computers system the students worked through in one of the campus computer labs.
Those students would build and program their robot to move through a laid out course, making turns and even picking up pieces, learning elements of sound, light, touch and ultra sensors.
During the summer the response was so positive, Craig and the program’s instructor Meg Edwards had expressed their desire to offer the classes as a semester long course.
An open house has been scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 15 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Niles campus to give parents and those children and teens interested in the courses a closer look at team robotics with participants in last year’s classes on hand to help answer questions.
“Just watching the students’ excitement and commitment in their work gives one hope that there are some future engineers in the group,” Craig said. “Hopefully, they will apply what they have learned and will make a difference in their local communities and economies.”
Classes would begin in January and last through April.
For more information, contact the Bertrand Crossings Campus at 695-1391.
Lake Michigan College, Bertrand Crossing Campus fabrication and robotics courses include:
Elementary Robotics I: A beginning class using Lego Duplo blocks. No computer skills needed. Students in this class will learn about friction, energy and movement using simple non-motorized machines. For ages 5-8.
Time: 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Elementary Robotics II: Students use WEDO kits from Lego and will learn to build from blueprints. Some programming skills will be taught. For ages 6-9.
Time: 2:30-4 p.m.
Robotics I: Participants will build robots and attachments from blueprints, learn to use sensors and levers, and learn how to do beginning programming. For ages 9-15.
Time: 4-7 p.m.
Robotics II: Expands on Robotics I. Students will learn to build their own robots without blueprints, how to build strong attachments and how to use Bluetooth technology to communicate with other robots. For ages 9-15.
Time: 12:30-3:30 p.m.
Robotics Team: This class works toward learning to compete in the Lego League Challenge in the Fall of 2010. The class will work as a team to build a robot and program it to solve challenges. This class does include outside work (a research project, signs, etc.). For ages 9-14. One of the College’s current robotics team classes will be competing in the state finals later this month in Flint.
Time: 4-7 p.m.
Fabrication Laboratory Technology: “How to Make (Almost) Anything”: Participants will work on projects of their own choosing from conception to completion, using state-of-the-art programming and fabrication technology. The class is designed on technology created by MIT professor and inventor Neil Gershenfeld. Coursework is offered for beginners and advanced students and is open to children ages 5-14. Adult supervision required for students under 10 years old. LMC also offers college-level Fab Lab credit classes and non-credit Community Education classes for adults.
Dates: Jan. 12-April 29
Days: Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Tuesdays, 2-5 p.m.
Thursdays, 12:30-3:30 p.m.
Thursdays, 4-7 p.m.
Cost: $350 (plus materials fees)