Lock Haven University holds Robotics Camp

LOCK HAVEN — The Lock Haven University computer science faculty recently held a weeklong Robotics Camp for middle school students from July 30 to Aug. 3 at the Annie Halenbake Ross Library. Students from Keystone Central School District took part in the camp that provided hands-on experience in building and programming simple functional robots.

The Robotics Camp was a joint effort by Lock Haven University, the Annie Halebake Ross Library and Penn State Extension’s Clinton County 4-H program. Ross Library provided the LEGO EV3 robots and facilities, and LHU and the 4-H program provided the instructional resources to make the workshop possible.

As an introduction to problem solving, teams designed robots and programmed them to complete specific challenges. The projects focused on basic experiments that simulate driverless cars. Autonomous Vehicle Research is a rapidly growing area with a promising future.

The first challenge involved building and programming a bumper car that would avoid colliding with obstacles using ultrasonic sensors. The second challenge involved line-following using color sensors, and robots were timed to see how quickly they could do laps around a racing track marked out with tape. Participants learned the principles of sensors, and various attributes of motor control in a fun and thought-provoking way.

The final challenge was a sumo wrestling contest, that brought various skills together. The objective of the match was to push the opponent’s robot out of the sumo circle marked in red tape without over-stepping the boundary of the circle. The participants came up with brilliant designs and refined and modified their robots to make them more effective on the mat.

The activities were designed and taught by Dr. Krish Pillai, LHU associate professor of computer science. LHU teaching assistants Shaun Donohue and Assunta DeSanto, and Molly Hensley of Penn State University helped with the instruction.