September 27, 2007: Pilot Robotics Summer Camp Co-sponsored by CS and WISE

LEGO Mindstorms : A fun filled summer session

A pilot robotics camp was held this summer during July 23-27 (10 am - 2 pm) co-sponsored by the Computer Science department (via Prof. Barbara Di Eugenio's Career grant from the National Science Foundation) and by WISE (Women in Science and Engineering). The camp had two attendees - Celina Omelas(11) and Ashley Stigger (12) from the Chicago area mentored by a CS graduate student, Jisha Abubaker and a graduate assistant at WISE, Tanisha Ross.

With the help of the LEGO Mindstorms kit, the girls learnt about robotics in daily life, designing robots that could see and touch, as well as programming them. The girls went on to build and program their own robot - "UIC Apollo" that successfully moved within a marked circle pushing any cans in its path to outside the circle, while playing music. They also got a chance to tour and even interact with the robots at the UIC Vision and Robotics Lab, thanks to Prof. Milos Zefran and his students. On the last day, they were taken on a fieldtrip to see the 'Robots + Us' exhibit at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

The camp has received excellent feedback from WISE, the participants and their parents. The girls have found through this camp boosts in their self-confidence and interest in science and technology. While Celina has decided to take up more interest in science and math at school, Ashley intends to build a robot for her next science project. This camp is intended to become a yearly activity with more students participating, more computer graduate students as mentors, and having a competition at the end of the session presented to a wider audience.

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