By Tamas Mondovics

Given the hands-on component of camps and in an ongoing effort to inspire students to be engaged in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, the Florida Advanced Technological Education (FLATE), the National Science Foundation Regional Center of Excellence, will host several high-tech robotics camps this summer for middle and high school-aged students at the Brandon Campus of Hillsborough Community College.

One such inspired student is McKenzie Johns, who is returning to attend the intermediate camp this year.

“For campers like McKenzie who attended FLATE’s robotics camp last year, the camp promises to be another exciting learning experience,” said FLATE spokesperson Janice Mukhia.

Mukhia said that Johns worked with FLATE outreach manager and camp director, Desh Bagley, throughout the past year on a class-related science project, which resulted in a new invention to help save electricity and reduce global warming. The young camper designed a system to turn a light on, or off, in a room by programming the sensor to simulate a system in which lights turned off due to lack of carbon dioxide in the air instead of motion.

During the weeklong program, campers build and program Lego Mindstorms EV3 Robots, and engage in different level of challenges that are educational and fun. The introductory and intermediate camps serve as a launching pad for campers to learn the basics of EV3 robots and how to program them. They will be part of several team-based challenges, learn about 3D printing techniques, write programs to operate the NAO humanoid robot, and tour a local high-tech manufacturing facility.

“The camps are designed to sharpen students skills in math, physics, witness the application of scientific principles and new technologies, and examine career and educational pathways in manufacturing and engineering technologies.” Bagley said.

Camps include Introductory EV3 Robotics Camp II for ALL Middle School students from July 6-10, Intermediate EV3 Robotics Camp (A) for middle school students from July 13-17, Intermediate EV3 Robotics Camp (B) for middle school students from July 20-24, and Engineering Technology Camp for High School students from July 27-31. Cost for each, week-long camp is $175.

For more information, visit www.fl-ate.org/projects/camps.html.