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Students explore robotics at camp
Robotics WEB 1
Damian Velarde, left, and Adan Mantri works on building a robot Wednesday during a robotics and engineering camp at South Forsyth High School. The session introduces students to robotics. - photo by Autumn Vetter

The nine elementary school students enrolled in Jim Cham-berlain’s weeklong robotics and engineering camp spent as much time experimenting and building as they did laughing and playing.

Friends Aayushi Chaudhary, Riya Manchanda and Tanvi Gujral appeared to be having the most fun Wednesday. The girls decided the camp, held at South Forsyth High School, would be a great way to spend a week together over the summer.

“I’ve always liked playing with Legos and building stuff,” said Chaudhary, a rising fifth-grader at Shiloh Point Ele-mentary. “We all gave ourselves jobs. I’m the one that puts the parts together.”

Manchanda, also at Shiloh Point, manned the computer while Gujral, a Brookwood Elementary student, handled the motors. The girls speak Hindi during class, so the other three teams don’t overhear their ideas, Manchanda said.

While the girls were having fun with the class, Nolan McGinley was all work.

The rising fifth-grader at Haw Creek Elementary said when he started camp, “I really didn’t know how to make [anything]. I just went with my imagination.”

“It’s one of my funnest camps ever,” he said. “You use more of your imagination than in a book and you need to know about computers.”

The robotics and engineering camp is just one of several summer offerings put on by the Forsyth County school system.

All students in the camp were new to robotics, Chamberlain said. As a result, the third-graders weren’t at a disadvantage to the older students.

The teams also did a good job of finding their individual strengths, and the older kids helped the younger kids, he said. The best part may be how the program has engaged the children to get involved.

“This is a way to promote our program at a younger level and possibly get some teams going at their schools,” Chamberlain said. “It’s a lot of fun and I enjoy doing it, plus it’s fun for the kids.”

Every day was something new. Monday started the week off with a race. Tuesday students had to get a robot to drop an egg down a ramp to “feed” a stuffed alligator.

“We put on so many layers on Eggelina it took like a billion hours to take it off,” Manchanda said of her team’s egg.

The students were preparing Wednesday for an obstacle course. Today is the final competition, following Thursday’s tasks.

The camp lasts five hours a day for one week, which Chamberlain said is plenty of time to handle the basics.

“It’s surprising how much they can learn in a week,” he said. “By the end of the week, they’re building some pretty sophisticated robots.”

“They discuss, they cooperate and they come up with a solution … I’m trying to teach them cooperation and teamwork.”