Robot Programming and GPS navigation. These may sound like components of an advanced technology course, but in fact, Siouxland kids have been experimenting with these all week at Gear-Tech-21 Camp.
The 4-day camp held at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon is a part of Governor Terry Branstad's STEM initiative to get kids interested in math and science.
"It's fun mixed with science," said 10-year-old Wyatt Borden.
ISU Extension partnered with the 4-H Youth Development Organization to put on a 4-day camp that teaches kids about robotics programming, GPS mapping, and GIS technologies.
They are doing very well, they've programmed everything, they had to rebuild their robots from yesterday and attach that third motor again, and they're doing great," said Sarah Krull, Coordinator for Gear-Tech and STEM programs.
The kids are given specific instructions to assemble their robots.
"They give you the pieces to put on and where to put the pieces on and what parts to connect your motors and sensors to," said 10-year-old Wyatt Borden.
"If you want to do stuff your way that always doesn't work, sometimes you got to follow the instructions and do what the instructions tell you," said 10-year-old Wyatt Borden.
The boys were asked to program their robots to pick up this ball and put it in this square. It may sound like an easy task, but the robot must be both programmed and placed perfectly in order to succeed.
"They learn the first day that their robot can only do what they tell it to do and nothing more and nothing less. Just like having a partner you have to have clear communication," said Sarah Krull, Coordinator for Gear-Tech and STEM programs.
The methods the kids use to troubleshoot the problems they encounter has provided them with more than just communication skills.
"The critical thinking skills are unbelievable that these kids attain by the end of the week, and just the basic knowledge of programming will help them in future careers," said Sarah Krull, Coordinator for Gear-Tech and STEM programs.
Perhaps, Dalton Wagenaar, a Gear-Tech camp attendee, sums it up the best.
"Science is finding out better ways of how to do stuff or easier ways," says 12-year-old, Dalton Wagenaar.