NORTH ISLAND COLLEGE PHOTO Mackinley Whalen holds up one of the Lego Robots she created in NIC’s Robotics Camps last summer.

Kids to build robots in Port Hardy

Students will build, program, and remotely control Lego robots

A robotics summer camp is returning to Port Hardy to teach kids about technology.

“It’s harder for students to have access to those skills especially in smaller communities,” said Naomi Tabata, manager of the Centre for Applied Research, Technology, and Innovation at North Island College. “So we decided to take the camp on tour across the North Island.”

The camp allows students, aged 9 to 12, to build, program and remotely control Lego robots while learning science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills.

Last year, the camps had reached 139 students over five communities. The camps visited Port Alberni, the Comox Valley, Ucluelet, Port Hardy, and Campbell River.

Tabata said the camps are important because technology is becoming more a part of our everyday lives. “There will be lots of opportunities for us to interact with tech but also the opportunity to grab that tech and make it a part of our career paths.”

On the first day of the camp, the kids build a robot using a predefined kit which they assemble, but as the week goes on, the kids do custom and creative builds using their imagination.

“A piece that compliments that is the programming,” said Tabata, explaining “the instructors provide a series of challenges for the robots to complete and the students have to get creative about finding the right build and the right program for the robots to perform the challenges.”

The camp is led by brothers Andrew and Mitchell Gair, two university students who are robotics fanatics and have competed in international competitions.

Tabata noted that after the camps “students come out with an exposure to a skill they might not have seen before, and come out meeting new friends and discovering a part of themselves that they might not have known existed.”

The robotics camps are a joint effort between North Island College and Navigate NIDES, a distance learning school in Courtenay.

The camp takes place August 14-18, from 9 am to 3 pm, at the Mount Waddington Regional Campus in Port Hardy. Those interested can register online at www.nic.bc.ca/robots.

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