Local libraries feature robot building classes for kids and teens
By Darla Shelden
Amidst all the 21st century electronic gadgets that make life easier, the Metropolitan Library System (MLS) is giving kids and teens, ages 10-16, a chance to construct their own robots in two free six-week sessions. The program is called “The Green City Robotic Challenge.”
The robots will be designed to solve challenges related to renewable energy. The learning sessions will be held at the Belle Isle Library, 5501 N. Villa, from Oct. 3 through Nov. 7, and at Ralph Ellison Library, 2000 N.E. 23 Street, from Oct. 11 through Nov. 15.
“We did an experimental introduction to the Lego’s Robotics program at 3 different libraries and the response was overwhelming,” said Dana Morrow, MLS Director of Outreach Services. “With the assistance of our Library Endowment, we decided to offer two six-week classes at two libraries. We know that there is a great need in our community to get kids excited about math and science. There is no better way than through the challenge of real-world robotics.”
The Belle Isle sessions will be held from 4 – 6:30 p.m. The Ralph Ellison classes meet from 5 – 7:30 p.m. The sessions are free, but each one is limited to 24 students.
“We’ve presented robotics programs in the past,” said MLS Teen Services Coordinator Emily Williams, “and they’re always as much fun as they are educational. We encourage anyone between the ages of 10 and 16 who’s interested to give us a call questions or to register.”
Students are introduced to the world of robotics by first exploring basic programming maneuvers utilizing three training mats. When students have completed the training phase and are confident in their robotic building and programming skills, they are presented with the Green City Challenge.
The challenge consists of a number of missions simulating real-life challenges, each environmentally focused and conducted on the Green City Challenge mat. As students complete each mission, they are awarded an Energy Brick.
The Green City Challenge course allows the students to apply and adapt all of their programming and problem-solving skills by making their robots solve challenges related to renewable energy.
Students will solve the Challenges by controlling the movements of their robots. For each challenge the students are given a simple set of rules, a mission and a point system.
Each student’s goal will be to build a robot that can collect as many of the Energy Bricks as possible and use them to energize the Green City.
Through the Green City Challenge students will learn about science, technology, engineering, and math concepts and how each relates to the field of robotics. The program helps to enhance teamwork and critical thinking skills, and discover how robotics is used in real-world situations to solve modern-day problems.
The Green City Robotic Challenge is co-sponsored by the Library Endowment Trust and techJOYnt Robotics Academy located in Oklahoma City. (www.techJOYnT.org)
“This is a great partnership between techJOYnT and the Metropolitan Library System. We tested the interest of library patrons in 2011 by running a 2 hour program at various locations,” said Ray Shaik, Founder & Executive Director of techJOYnT. “The response was overwhelming and the students loved it. Showing relevance of science, technology, engineering and math through robotics and game design programs will create more interest among today’s generation. I am thankful to be a small part in the future of our community youth.”
The Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma County includes 13 libraries and five extension libraries. In addition to the Belle Isle and Ralph Ellison libraries, the system includes Capitol Hill, Patience S. Latting Northwest Library, Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library and Southern Oaks in Oklahoma City, as well as Bethany, Choctaw, Del City, Edmond, Midwest City, Village and Warr Acres. Extensions are located in the communities of Harrah, Jones, Luther and Nicoma Park and include Wright Library in Oklahoma City.
To register for the Green City Robotic Challenge call 405-606-3833. To learn more about other Metropolitan Library System programs, visit www.metrolibrary.org