Building for the futurePublished 8:23am Monday, August 11, 2014
County 4-H to launch LEGO Robotics program following successful pilot test
If you want to see a finger disappear, place it in the mouth of an alligator constructed with LEGO pieces by 10-year-old Michael Hollister and his partner Ethan Anderson, 12, in the Summer May Way camp.
“It had a sensor that knew when you stuck something in it. When that happens it closes its mouth,” said Hollister, who will be a fifth-grader at Eastside School in the fall.
The pair also used LEGOs to create a sleeping lion that roared when something passed in front of it.
“It is fun to make something and then watch it work,” said Anderson, a sixth-grade student at Oak Manor. “I used it (LEGO Robotics) at home before, but it is more fun to work with other people.”
Hollister and Anderson were two of more than 200 Niles area students who participated in the LEGO Robotics program — spearheaded by Berrien County 4-H — during the Summer My Way summer camp at Ballard Elementary School during summer break.
Elaine McKee, 4-H program coordinator, said the program was a pilot test for a countywide LEGO Robotics program the 4-H will be launching this fall. It will be open to grade level students in Berrien County.
“The pilot went great. I was surprised at how well the kids responded,” McKee said. “They learned how to program and it was cool to see them blossom in that way.”
By using LEGO Robotics, students can build and program robots to perform a number of tasks.
McKee’s hope for the program is to teach young students the basics of robotics so they will be better prepared to thrive when they join high school robotics clubs.
“They will already have the concepts and can apply them when they join a club,” she said. “They will have a jump start.”
Students will also be able to use the skills they learned to possibly land high-paying jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics when they are finished with school.
Berrien County 4-H was able to launch the pilot thanks to a $1,500 grant from the Molly Schuler Foundation and a $2,500 Heart of Cook award.
Those interested in learning more about the new 4-H LEGO Robotics program can contact the 4-H at (269) 944-4126.