National center brings robotics camp to the 109

Upcoming seventh and eighth graders from the 109 and surrounding Fort Worth area participated in a robotics camp presented by the West Point Military Academy and TCU’s Andrews Institute of Mathematics & Science Education June 15 and 16 at TCU.

The two-day camp allowed to students to build bridges and program robotics. The students started from scratch, using kits and instructions, to build a bridge that could withstand the weight of a toy tank and to program robots to perform various tasks.

The robotics camp is part of the Center for Leadership and Diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), located in West Point, N.Y., at the United States Military Academy.

“Preparations for the robotics camp began in December 2010 with the goal of exposing about 80 students to activities in STEM,” said Archie Wilmer III, retired lieutenant colonel and deputy director of the Center for Leadership and Diversity in STEM.

The center has been hosting and conducting workshops, such as the robotics camp, since it was founded almost two years ago. The center does not have a military direction, even though it was established at West Point. The central focus is STEM interest and STEM education.

“Students have a chance to gain exposure to activities involving engineering involving technology, involving robotics, involving mathematics, with the intent to spur their interests in these types of fields,” Wilmer said.

While in the Fort Worth area, the center has also conducted two-day workshops with Trinity Valley School students, Fort Worth Academy students and other schools in the Fort Worth area.

Students were invited and selected by their schools, in a nomination process, to participate. There was no fee for students to attend.

“Our hope is that a student will say that’s what I want to do with my life, that’s who I want to be when I grow up,” Wilmer said. “Once that passion is ignited, it is much easier to direct them in the courses they should take as they finish middle school, as they get into high school and so on.”

This summer marks the first time the center has been to Fort Worth. The center has also conducted workshops in South Carolina, California and the New York/New Jersey area.