Ready, Set, Robots! camp offers techy fun

Local kids discover programming, tech careers while tinkering around with mini robots

STARTING FROM SCRATCH. During each two-day session, campers transition from learning the basics to commanding their very own robot.

Ah, summer at IU: The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, the kids are programming their robots for a mission to Mars.

You read that right. In an effort to get area school kids excited about science and information technology, the IU Pervasive Technology Institute (PTI) is hosting its Ready, Set, Robots! camp for teens in grades 7–12.

Robot Camp group 1

Certified creators. Camp participants pose after the Robot Grand Challenge.

Now in its 10th consecutive year, this hands-on workshop requires no prerequisites or computer programming skills, just a curious mind and an interest in technology. Participants will learn basic computer programming skills as they work in teams alongside IU technology professionals to command LEGO® Mindstorms® robots to simulate a Mars rover mission. And for the second summer in a row, PTI is offering an advanced camp for teens with previous programming or Mindstorms® experience.

All sessions take place 9am–3:30pm in IU’s Cyberinfrastructure Building (CIB), 2709 E. 10th St.

The Research Technologies division of University Information Technology Services is offering the following robot camp sessions this year: 

  • First session, for grades 7–12 (no experience required): June 16–17
  • Second session, for grades 7–12 (no experience required): July 14–15
  • Advanced session, for grades 7-12 (computer programming or LEGO® Mindstorms® experience required): August 1–2

Watch the Ready, Set, Robots! promotional video:

Each workshop finishes with the campers showing off their programming skills at a friendly competition called the Robot Grand Challenge. Campers’ parents, friends, and the general public are welcome to attend the Grand Challenge at 2:30pm in the CIB lobby on the second day of each session.

Robot Camp

Learning their craft. Young robotics engineers in the making study the process of bringing machines to life.

Afterward, staffers will lead tours of the IU Data Center, which houses the university’s most prized networking, computer processing, and data storage equipment, including the Big Red II supercomputer.

Kids interacting at Robot Camp

Figuring out the formula. Campers in the midst of tweaking their creations to perfection.

Even though there’s lots of learning going on at Ready, Set, Robots!, the focus is on fun—and future career skills.

Robert Ping at Robot Camp

Moment of truth. Time to see exactly how functional those robots are.

“One of our main goals is to give young people a chance to gain real programming experience in a group setting,” said Robert Ping, UITS Research Technologies’ education and outreach manager. “The kids work in teams and learn that in order to be successful, they need to discuss ideas—they can't just work alone on the computer. Learning how to express your own ideas and also be a good listener are skills they can carry forward to any career.” 

Robot Camp at the CIB

It's alive! Nothing's more satisfying than making your own mini-Frankenstein.