Robotics camp...

Hi,
I am going to be running a robotics camp for kids 14-16. Was wondering what type of kits you guys know of that will take the kids about a week to put together, figuring
about 3 hours/day, so a total of about 15 hours worth of assembly time. Was hoping for non-soldering. Could split it into two kits as well. Not looking for high $$ kits, $50 range.
Any suggestions?
Thanks
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I have a suggestion but not about the kits. Why limit the age to such a narow age range. THere are 7/8 yr olds that help me build and love it.
The Hirudinea
On Sun, 23 Sep 2007 02:16:05 -0400, "Franco"

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Hi,
Yes, that is true, but this was the target age the people who are running it are asking about. I was thinking about going for the younger kids. So, give me a suggestion of kits for both ages in the same time frame.
Thanks
wrote:

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I'm not sure it fits your price range, but the Vex and Lego Mindstorms kits could definitely be useful here.
Perhaps the Boebot kits will be in your price range?
I'd suggest that you have some sort of simple competition for the bots to compete in at the end of the week. That way, they get to design their solution and see how it performs against everyone else.
You could do a sumo competition, or some sort of ball or block gathering, or......
ttyl,
--buddy
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I'm not sure you really want what you're asking for -- a kit that they'll spend an entire week assembling before they get any gratification? How "build a little, play a little, add a little on, play a little..."
Other than the price constraint, I'd suggest Mindstorms. I don't know of the Boebots are in your price range...
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I am open for ideas, so if I go with the build a little/play a little, what would you suggest?
Thanks
writes:

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Try to have a modular approach -- for instance first, build a motor platform and get it to go forward. Then, add bumpers and make it bounce off objects. Then, make it follow a line. Finish up with a race along a track to see whose robot works best.
I actually ran a camp like you're describing several years ago -- we used Legos (but not Mindstorms) and Freescale HC11-based single board computers because they were available to us (it's the platform we use for teaching our sophomore assembly language programming course). We wired up home-made bump and light sensors, and my son and I built a simple reactive robot control language; the students seemed to have fun!
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I agree with Joe. The real joy of robitics isn't building them, but in programming them, getting feedback from sensors, and watching the robots interact with their environment.
I think Mindstorms is a good choice. 100% of the kids are going to be familiar with Legos. At least mechanically, Mindstorms won't be a big leap. The motors and sensors just click into place just like another block. Unless the kids are retarded, they should be able to put something together in a couple hours. Then they can start programming, adding more sensors, and improving their design.

Mindstorms will cost more than $50/kit, but if you have them work in teams of 3 or 4, you might be able to do it for around $50/kid. They will have more fun working in teams anyway.
If you put them in teams, and your camp has both boys and girls, you should make each team single gender. For younger (pre-puberty) kids, mixed gender teams are fine, but for 14-16yrs, the boys will treat their male teammates as competitors instead of cooperating with them, and the girls will act dumb and contribute little. Both genders will do better on unisex teams.
At most tech camps, you have two kinds of kids: 1. Kids that are interested. 2. Kids whose parents think they should be interested. The first group tend to be more highly skilled, more motivated, and, well, more nerdy. You need to engage and challange both groups, but their needs are different. Mindstorms is a good choice here too, because both groups can start of with the simple GUI programming, but more motivated kids can then move on to C or Java.
As others have mentioned, you should have some sort of competition on the last day.
Over the years, other people have asked similar questions. But we never hear back from them. So please let us know what you decide to use, and how it works out. Take some pictures of the robots, and put them on a website. Then post a link in this newsgroup.
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Franco wrote:

Robotics is an expensive hobby... Even a simple wheel or tank base and a simple micro comes in over your budget. Maybe you could get a volume/educational discount somewhere?
Personally, I'd try to get programmable kits. Even better if you have access to a computer lab somewhere. The Logo turtle could easily fill a week. The single-function, nonprogrammable kits might lose their luster when 10 kids each build the same thing.
Here's a few kits near your price range.
http://www.budgetrobotics.com/shop/?shop=1&catI&cartI1769
The Bee-Bot (probably below your age group) http://www.terrapinlogo.com/bee-bot.php
The ASURO http://www.robotstore.com/store/product.asp?pids8&catid54
OWI Kranius http://www.owirobots.com/cart/index.php?l=product_detail&p "
The Microbric Viper or AI2 http://www.electronickits.com/robot/MicrobricVIPERRobotKit.htm https://www.microbric.com/page.php?sId=5
- Daniel
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Guys,
Great info so far. I will be having the kids work in teams. I guess let me give you my background a little. I am a 'career' switcher, was working in the aerospace industry for years and decided to give teaching a try after getting disgusted volunteering at the local regional science fairs for a few years. The kids were being feed lots of wrong info, especially in the engineering category. I am now a technology education teacher at a high school. On the side, I set up a camp to run last year over the summer:
http://www.dietandtraining.com/Launch_Pad /
but did not touch on robotics yet. I have a community center that wants me to come in and run a one week robotics class for kids. They asked me today to set up for 10-14 or 12-14 age group. So I am looking for some help so these kids get something out of this.
I typically work with 14 to 18. Which kids are more manageable for the age they want?
Thanks!

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Coincidentally, I was director of the regional science fair here for four years. What a backbreaking task...
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