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Building 'bots

Posted: July 20, 2009 11:03 p.m.
Updated: July 21, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Camp counselor Emily Hung, 15, center, helps 12-year-old Tyler Arrowsmith make adjustments to his robot at the camp.

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John Pisaro has always been a fan of Lego, so he knew a Lego robotics camp would fit him just right.

"When I saw this Lego Robotics (camp), it screamed me," 11-year-old Pisaro said.

Pisaro was one of about 20 students Thursday involved in the week-long Placerita Tech Camp, where junior high-aged kids spend their afternoons crowded in a Placerita Junior High School classroom building and programming their robotics.

"We made it as simple as we could," Pisaro said about his robotic as it roamed around a wooden table.

Despite its simplicity, the students built the robotic with an arm that had enough power to throw a red ball on command.

But Tyler Arrowsmith, 12, had another idea for a robotic.

"The only reason I like robots is because I want them to do my homework," he said.

Before any of the robotics could roam around the classroom, the campers had to build and program them with the help of Lego robotics kits, said Paul Kass, Placerita math teacher and camp director.

In small teams, campers clicked gears and wheels together, adding motion and light sensors to put their creative touches on their mini masterpieces.

"It's been a growing robot over the past week," Kass said.

Throughout the process, students learned about concepts like power versus speed to create the best robot that they could.

The camp provides kids with real skills like problem solving and teamwork, Kass said.

The camp continues this week, but is designed for advanced students, who will build robotics for a competition at the end, Kass said.

Another aspect of Placerita's tech camp is "Kid Flix," a two-week long camp for students interested in video production and filmmaking.

Through the camp, students learn how to put together an entire movie, from filming to editing.

The program worked for Spencer Solomon who attended Kid Flix camp during junior high school. He was back on Thursday to help with the robotics camp.

Now 19 and a college student, Solomon said he's learned a lot about audio and visual equipment.

"I've turned into a jack of all trades and a master of none," Solomon said.

As Pisaro and Arrowsmith fixed their robotic on Thursday, they thought about their future careers.

Arrowsmith wants to be an inventor while Pisaro wants to be an engineer.

"This is like a jump start for (my career)," Pisaro said.

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