Ready, Set, Educate!

How do you define or exemplify a group of extremely talented WMSI LEGO Engineers? By giving them the project of their dreams!

The Sumo-Bots went excellent, I mean who wouldn't want to design and engineer your own structurally robust robot? It was only natural that our builders wanted more of this.

Now normally we like to shake up our projects and do something crazy, and epic for the last few days of Robot Design Studio; this time, however, we decided to give them what they wanted, an advanced Sumo-Robot Project.

Two teams each with two campers, two counselors, 3 EV3 LEGO Bricks and 12 motors. How could this possibly deny our camp of some amazing creations. We knew that with our talented group of campers that they would not only see this as a fun project, but also as an engineering and programming challenge. It is only because of their "Varsity" builder status that we found this to be an appropriate multi-day build.

Besides making awesome robots and slamming them together, what will the campers get out of this? Normally in our camps and workshops we focus on concept development, iterative design, working with others and just basic engineering and programming skills.

This time, however, we added in a few new challenges for our campers to master.

Graceful movement, or proportional control was one of the biggest challenges for our campers. Understanding P.I.D. is a high level, high school or college concept, and we wanted our campers to understand how it all works. By breaking it down into a simple explanation we had campers grades 5-9 understanding how proportional control works; along with realizing how this can apply to a function and well-designed robot.

From there we moved to structural and mechanical engineering. Protecting the important parts of the robot, while using as few pieces as possible to reduce weight and prevent parts from breaking during the tournament.

With our campers being so advanced, we didn't just stop at engineering. Our campers have worked with Teleoperation by creating their own Bluetooth remote controls, as well as using a gyroscope to collect data during the tournament. This data will become invaluable when we look back to see what really happened during the tournament and what each robot designer did to improve their robot and what they could have done differently to change how the matches played out.

Above all else the most amazing thing we've seen (If you can believe there is anything more impressive than getting our campers genuinely interested in data collection and math) is their ability to work so well together; I am not just talking about within each team, I'm talking about across teams.

We set these campers up in a competitive scenario and they are still bouncing ideas off the other team. They are testing their bots against each other, offering tips and tricks to improve; all we really want is a fun and enjoyable match, and that is exactly what these campers are driving towards.

So in the past two days we have gone from Prep and Design to Iteration and finalization. With all the work these campers have invested into these robots, I know tomorrow will be a blast!