Underwater Robotics Camp Helps Students Hone STEM Skills

     Published on 7/21/15   Tagged under:    District News   

Fifteen sixth through eighth graders took part in an underwater robotics camp this summer at Danforth Middle School. Because of a high demand for the program, students from Clary were also able to participate this year.
 
Next year, organizers are hoping to expand the underwater robotics program even more, to offer more students in the Syracuse City School District the opportunity to participate in a competition on the citywide level.
 
Each year, students are given a new scenario, tasked with the job of creating a robot that will be able to complete several tasks. At summer camp, students used a pool to pretend they were working in ice and frigid temperatures. They created robots that would allow them to pick up plastic balls representing algae, turn an underwater pipe that would hypothetically allow water to flow, and pick up ping-pong balls from the water and lift them above the ice. Points are awarded for the completion of each task.
 
For students, the challenge includes lots of trial and error!
 
Clary eighth grader Tatyanna Dowdell said she and her partner Jordynn Collie initially sketched out a big square box robot, but revised it five or six times to create their final version. “We looked at different robot structures,” Jordynn explained, noting that their first attempt sunk in the pool. “We put two propellers on the outside to control the direction and one in the middle to help bring it back up to the surface.”
 
This experimentation is what helps expand students’ learning, and these lessons are paying off. Tatyanna said she will probably continue in the underwater robotics program during the school year, because she learns to build something new everyday.
 
Danforth seventh grader Devine Hansen was continuing her interest in the program after attending a competition in Boston last year. “I like science,” she said. “I like being able to put my imagination to work. It’s fun to be creative!”
 
Aside from building an interest in STEM fields, the experience is also opening students’ minds to career possibilities.
 
“I want to be an engineer,” Clary eighth grader Jordynn Collie stated. “The way they work, they find a new way to do things. I don’t want to be ordinary—I want to be extraordinary!”