Student News

CSGC Summer Grant: Teaching Robotics to African American Youth (Boy’s Session)

Nikhil Barnes – July 24, 2019

This summer Nasir Barnes and I worked together to teach African American boys and girls in our area the joys of robotics. We are working in conjunction with Camp Atwater, a historically black outdoor summer camp. A camp that we both once attended. The boys and girl’s sessions are separate, and the girl’s portion is ongoing. This post is about the two-week boy’s session, which has already ended. While Nasir did the fieldwork and teaching I worked from Deerfield to make sure he had all the materials he needed to teach the kids. The camp has upwards of forty boys each year and this year was no exception, We’re excited by the turn out for the Robotics class specifically because of the forty, we got twelve of the boys interested. In the following years, we hope to get even more than that!

For the first week of the two-week program, the class built robots with a focus on momentum, the ultimate goal being racing them by the end of the week. The older group worked quickly and were very promising, while the younger group worked slower and understood less, although there were a few impressive kids in the group. That week ended with a race. For the following days, they brushed up on their programming skills aiming to make their robots stop and go when presented with specific colors. After their first week of working together, they worked faster and we’re able to complete new robots much faster. One of the kids figured how to program the robot on the last day of classes ending the program with a big win. The boys took away how to build a gear train to increase speed and learned basic coding skills as well as attention to detail.

We would like to thank Camp Atwater, Mr. Earle Mendillo, and the Deerfield CSGC for helping to create this program and give back to our community. Here’s to continued success in the girl’s session!