Amanda Partin didn t need help when the tabletop robot she built last week started spinning instead of moving forward: The 7-year-old Genoa girl simply changed the positive and negative leads to her wooden creation s motors.
Such advanced troubleshooting is more than Del Kuntz and others in Clay High School s Tech Prep program expected to see last week from East Toledo Family Center youngsters. The 21 children, aged 7 to 12, attended a four-morning summer academy on robotics at Clay in an effort to get them interested in engineering, science, and various careers.
Amanda, who will be a second grader at Brunner Elementary this fall, was hooked even before the academy culminated in a robot wars competition on Friday.
It was very fun because we all got to learn how to build robots, Amanda said. We got to do a lot of stuff, and we also got to race them.
Clay has held sessions on rockets, solar energy, and other topics for Oregon City Schools middle school students for eight years, and robotics was the topic this summer for them as well.
This was the first time, however, the school held an academy for elementary-age children.
Steve Bialorucki, the district s director of career, technical, and adult education, said doing the program with younger children was the idea of Dr. Erol Riza, a local obstetrician and gynecologist. Dr. Riza donated $1,200 for materials, instructors, and lunches, Mr. Bialorucki said.
Youngsters had a classroom session and were briefed on shop safety before building their wooden robots. They used glue guns, drill presses, and other tools with the help of instructors and high school students, said Del Kuntz, Clay s computer-aided drafting and design teacher.
The looks on their faces were fascinating, so intent, Mr. Kuntz said. It s made it all worth- while.
Youngsters came up with their own two-wheeled designs, which they decorated with paint. On Friday, they went head-to-head with each others motorized robots on a hilly table, trying to capture their balls and preventing their opponents from doing the same.
Drew Conley, 9, of Toledo said one important tip he learned is to never touch a hot glue gun. Amanda Koster, 10, of Toledo said she needed help getting her robot to run.
And Devon Sartor, 12, of Toledo said it ultimately came down to how well they were able to maneuver their two-wheeled robots.
It doesn t matter how good you make the car, he said. It just depends on how you drive the car.
Eight Clay students who want to pursue careers in architecture or engineering volunteered to help with the youngsters as well as the middle school group, who attended their summer academy earlier this month.
Sam Logan, who will be a Clay senior this fall hopes to become a residential architect, said wanted to assist youngsters build and run their robots.
I did this when I was younger, and I loved doing it, the 17-year-old said.
Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:email@example.com 419-724-6087.