Students build, compete with robots during 4-H University

David Boldt  |  7/9/2009 10:25:20 PM

News Release Distributed 07/09/09

BATON ROUGE, La. – Students attending the robotics class at the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H University squared off in fierce combat with robots they built and programmed.

The robots fought in a circle, and the object was to push an opponent out of a 2-foot ring.

No one dominated the ring until Billy Dew, a Madison Parish ninth-grader, stuck a comb on the front of his team’s robot to push opponents around. The additional weaponry helped win most of the rounds.

Katina Hester, LSU AgCenter information technology analyst, said the class’s objective was to encourage kids to consider engineering careers. Robotics is a good gateway for that idea, she said, because it incorporates programming, design concepts and assembly.

Dew said he’s considering a technology-oriented career. He said he enjoys working with computers and electronics, and he often is called by adults for help.

“Everybody calls me in to do that,” he said.

Nicholas Victoriano of Terrebonne Parish said the robotics course taught him “electronics is not easy.” He said he would like to make a robot to entertain his pet turtle.

Justin Bracey, a Washington Parish ninth-grader, said the class was an eye-opener. “I learned there’s a lot of work for just one small thing.”

Jonghoon Kim, a doctoral student in computer science, was among the graduate students under computer science professor Srivathsan Srinivas who helped the 4-H club members.

“It was good fun,” Kim said. “I hope this program is going on next year.”

He noticed that team members were shy at first, and the girls in the class quickly learned how to build and program the robots.

“They are very smart, but they don’t know how to use their smarts,” Kim said.

The campers spent all day June 24 and a half day June 25 working on robots. They also toured a computer science lab to watch a demonstration of advanced robotics. The robotics class was one of many classes offered to 4-H’ers during 4-H University on the LSU campus June 23-25

Bruce Schultz

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