Summer camp provides hands-on STEM learning for students
Engaging students at a young age and expose them to the various and rewarding science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers is becoming more and more of a priority for employers. The skills gap is continuing to grow as the workforce gets older, which is leaving jobs unfilled. One company is looking to solve the problem with a hands-on summer experience for future high school students.
Amatrol, a developer of technical learning systems, offers local students in Indiana a chance with a hands-on experience at its 2-week Robotics Engineering Summer Camp each year with the intent to promote careers in STEM. This camp is available to students entering 9th grade in the fall and exposes them to the fields of engineering and technology, through robotics.
The robotics camp features skill-based, hands-on experience with robotics, engineering design, a plant tour, and interviews with working engineers and technologists. Students that attend learn about the many career choices available to students who develop strong academic and technical skills. Attendees learn through a combination of individualized and group instruction.
Amatrol’s camp provides students the chance to interact with the very robotics systems used to train technicians and engineering students. Students learn to program the robots as well as to connect various auxiliary devices. During the course of the camp, they will program robots to interact with conveyors, pallet systems, sensors and other devices commonly used in production facilities.
Students also meet and speak with mechanical and electrical engineers, graphic designers, software developers, and other employees. Through these meetings, students have the opportunity to hear and ask questions about what it’s like working in these fields on a daily basis. Such face-to-face experiences can give students a better idea of what it’s really like to work in one of these professions. It also gives students that are interested an idea of how they want to shape their high school experience as well as help them plan their college path via a particular STEM field, such as software engineering or industrial maintenance.
Participating students have the ability to work at their own pace, pushing themselves, or work in collaboration with a partner. This allows the students a chance to explore technology in a way that is comfortable for the individual and allows them to figure out if a career in technology is right for them.
Highlights during the two-week camp include two teams programming their robots to play against each other in a game of tic-tac-toe by placing blocks on a custom pallet. It may sound simple, but programming a robot to pick up multiple blocks and precisely placing them in various positions requires dedication, focus, and commitment in a game environment while teaching them the fundamentals of how a robot operates. This helps students envision what they’d like to pursue in high school and how that might lead into college.