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NMSU camp introduces students to future career opportunity

A robotics camp held June 1-5 by two New Mexico State University math and science outreach programs introduced fifth-grade and middle school students to an interesting career field on the rise.



Middle school students participate in the afternoon session of the Southern New Mexico Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SNM SEMAA) and the Southern New Mexico Academy of Young Scientists (SNM AYS) robotics camp June 1-5. (NMSU photo by Robert Yee)

The Southern New Mexico Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SNM SEMAA) and the Southern New Mexico Academy of Young Scientists (SNM AYS) held two robotics camp sessions every day throughout the week in the Aerospace Education Lab, located in the College of Engineering.

Thirty students attended each session. The camp was taught by Laura Tomlinson, SNM SEMAA assistant project director, and Courtney Harmon, AYS program coordinator.

The students learned the basics of robotics by using Lego kits to build various types of robots, including cars, animals and airplanes. The fifth-graders participated in an introduction to robotics and the middle school students worked with a more advanced Lego robotics kit.

"Robotics is a growing area. All science experiments done on other planets are done by robots. This is a possible career field for kids when they graduate from college," Tomlinson said.

Working in teams of three, students learned how to program the robots to perform different tasks, such as navigate a specific course, walk on a gravel surface and climb a steep incline. The camps not only taught students about robotics, but also helped build oral communication, teamwork, logic and problem-solving skills.

At the end of the camp, the fifth-grade students participated in a robot show-and-tell session with their parents.

SNM SEMAA and SNM AYS will hold two space camps July 13-17 for middle school students. Presently, these camps are full, but students who are interested in participating in next summer's camps can contact Tomlinson at (575) 646-2991 or visit www.semaa.nmsu.edu.