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July 13, 2017 The Hesston RecordJuly 13, 2017 The Hesston Record

Swather Robotics Camp

Posted 7/13/2017

Record Staff

A new generation of robotics students got their first driving lessons in the last two weeks. The first-ever Swather Robotics Camp was coordinated entirely by Hesston High graduates who were involved with the robotics program in high school

Austin Weaver, the primary coordinator of the camp, said that 34 youth took part in the camp over the two weeks.

“It went better than I thought. We didn’t have any major issues,” he said.

Assisted by fellow robotics graduates, Kendrick Weaver and Patty Deagan, the college students created bot kits and invented a game for the end-of-camp tournament.

“My favorite part was when they first got their bots moving. You hear that motor turn and it’s so amazing.  The first robot got done and turned on and every kid stopped what they were doing and looked at it,” said Austin.

Kendrick said seeing the enthusiasm of first-time robotics participants had a hint of nostalgia.

“I remember how I felt when we were first building bots with [teacher Treavor] Foreman; how antsy I was to get started and build something and making memories about robotics,” he said.

When their young pupils got their hands on their claw-bot kits, it opened up new opportunities.

“I chose robotics because I was going to participate in high school and thought it would be fun. I’ve had a really boring summer so far and I’m actually interested in this,” said Cooper.

During the week-long camp, Austin and Kendrick said they offered guidance and made recommendations, but kept kids as hands-on as possible with building, programming and driving.

“Some of the stuff you don’t know how to fix if you don’t have a grasp on the basics. We would tell them to ‘Flip this’ or ‘Fix that’ but we made them actually do it,” said Kendrick. 

With the hands-on approach, youth were able to see the fruits of their labor.

“Programming was the coolest thing,” said Jordan, one of only three girls taking part in the second week session.

Jordan’s teammate, Elana, said she not only learned the fundamentals of robotics, but was introduced to one of the cornerstones of the high school program - patience and anger management.

Making their way well into the finals, Jordan and Elana came away with confidence as well as technical knowledge. 

To read more, see this weeks print edition