HARLINGEN — The aspiring engineer taps away at the blue bars on the iPad, sending the orange “sphero” racing across the wooden ramp.
It hits the black ramp, knocking it over. The 11-year-old controller is jubilant.
One of them, anyway.
The field of robotics offers an endless range of missions. However, the most significant of all missions for local educators is creating an interest in robotics among young people. That’s why RGV Robotics is hosting “The Battle of the EV3 and Tetrix Robots” at Gutierrez Middle School, 3205 W. Wilson Road. The event, Aug. 8 to 12, will be open to students from kindergarten to ninth grade.
“This year, we’re going to implement TETRIX Prime,” said Edmundo Lopez, career and technology instructor at Gutierrez.
“It’s a little bit more advanced-type of robot, where it allows you to build different types of shapes,” Lopez said. “It uses aluminum pieces.”
About 25 students have already enrolled. Students will have another chance to register Monday through Wednesday between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. The camp can accommodate up to 150 students.
Lopez said students will be separated into two groups: kindergarten through second grade and third grade through ninth grade. The first group will learn how to use Scratch, a free programming language.
The other group will take part in the EV3 Mindstorm Battle in which one robot tries to overpower the other. The other activity is the TETRIX Prime Robotics Battle.
Lopez and Veronica Baca, library media specialist at Gutierrez, will teach the camp. Baca started the robotics program three years ago and it has since proliferated across the district and into surrounding areas.
Within the robotics programs, activities have diversified into new approaches and new activities such as the TETRIX activity.
“We’re going to combine that with the Lego brick,” Lopez said. “ That’s the main frame of the Lego system.”
Participants will learn how to program and also how to download software that will help the Lego brick communicate with the other prime servos, or motors.
The students will also engage in an activity called teleop.
“The kids are going to use their cell phones to control the robot,” Lopez said. “If they don’t have the cell phones, we’ll lend them the iPads.”
Lopez said the camp has several purposes. Educators wish to involve more students in the STEM professions. Many of those professions are wide open for new talent, because there are not enough young people pursuing studies in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Another purpose is to promote RGV Robotics, a nonprofit organization.
The cost of the camp is $125.