FLATE’s 2018 Summer Camps, Another Successful Year Promoting Robotics, STEM & Manufacturing Education in Florida.

Every summer a number of schools and organizations partner with FLATE to offer fun and motivating camps to middle and high school students across Florida.  Camps were held at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa; Lake Sumter State College (LSSC), Sumter Center in Sumterville; North Florida Community College (NFCC), IHMC in Pensacola and Ocala facilities; and Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology in Jacksonville.

Robotic Summer Camps were modeled after FLATE’s summer camps, used FLATE curriculum, and served as a mechanism to reach out to a broader range of students across the state. The camps also proved to be a sustainable and effective mechanism to get middle and high school aged students from all socio-economic backgrounds interested in STEM and robotics education and related career pathways.

FLATE hosts several Robotics and Engineering Technology Camps at Hillsborough Community College’s (HCC) Brandon campus in Tampa for middle and high school students. This year FLATE offered four camps for middle and high school students. Over 100 middle and high school students attended these. During the five-day camps, students programmed and built LEGO® Mindstorms® EV3 Robot systems, participated in team challenges and learned how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are used in today’s high-tech industries. Being in the camp “helped me learn more about robotics that I will probably continue exploring in middle school” noted one camper in a post-camp survey.

Most camps also take students on an in-depth exploration of some of the most recent technologies used in high-tech manufacturing environments. The summer camps are a challenging, but exciting way for students to explore and learn about robotics and STEM in a high-tech manufacturing context. Here is what our volunteers say:
·      “My experience at the robotics camp was an experience that I could write pages about, it was truly amazing and memories were created. During the duration of the camp, I was a volunteer with the campers, I was about to learn and help the campers with EV3 programming, 3D printing, Arduino programming and that was only the beginning. By volunteering, I was able to learn skills such as leadership, communication and public speaking which are skills that I will be able to use when I get further into my career of being a civil engineer. My favorite part of camp was watching the campers grow throughout the week, seeing them learn about the world we call robotics.  I am grateful for the opportunity of being able to volunteer at the camp, and overall it was a great experience!” stated a volunteer-camper.

·      “My experience at the Robotics camp was spectacular!  During my time as the summer camp assistant, I got to learn and help campers learn about 3D printing, coding, robots and so much more.  I got to help the kids with the computer programs that they used and building their Lego Robots.  I was able to assist the camp teachers with setting up the camp room and robotics courses that the kids would use during their challenges.  I also witnessed the kids become friends and how they worked together to solve the problems they were given” stated another volunteer-camper. Each camp presented students with hands-on activities that were geared to develop real-world skills in programming, and give them a hands-on exploration of STEM-related topics in robotics. Students also get to learn about 3D modeling and printing, and how all of these concepts are applied in everyday manufacturing operations.

Other partners that were IHMC in Pensacola and Ocala facilities offered a number of camp robotics summer camps at multiple levels plus a session for STEM teachers.. Here some of the quotes from campers attending one of the IHMC camps: “I attended the robotics camp at the Boys and Girls Club this summer. I had a great time building the robots. The best part about the camp was watching the robots move.” “Having been here this week I have decided that I would like to become a mechanical engineer. I will use the skills that I learned in this camp to help me design and build new technology” stated one camper.

Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology in Jacksonville with high school campers learning CNC machining in partnership with Terry Iverson, president of Iverson & Co and chairperson of FLATE’s National Visiting Committee.  The students made brass and plastic parts with a 0.00005 accuracy gang tool Hardinge Quest CNC Lathe and then measure the parts with an Oasis measuring system. Check out their video!
The Women's Solar Power Camp at Lake Sumter State College (LSSC) offered a unique solar power camp for middle and high school female students. A total of 19 students, grades 8 through 12 participated in this camp. This event was sponsored by the national science foundation which goal is to promote and recruit girls in the STEM field. During the camp, the girls had the opportunity to explore the innovative engineering technology field of solar energy. This four-day camp was free of charge STEM-themed program for the students, topics included a variety of activities to engage the minds of the next generation of engineers, a field trip to Duke Energy’s solar array at Walt Disney World, building a solar-powered car model. “Everyone had fun while learning about solar energy and working together in teams to assemble two separate projects such as the PV cell phone charger and the solar-powered model race cars. One high light of the camp was Mr. Gabe Gabrielle who presented the NASA presentation entitled "To Infinity and Beyond!" Gabe inspired all of us at the camp for sure!!” expressed Bob Seigworth, LSSC’s Director / Program Manager of Energy Technology Programs.

North Florida Community College hosted 3 camps: middle school robotics,  high school engineering technology, and high school mechatronics. Bill Eustece taught all three single handed with an average of 10-12 students per camp.  The high school camps both yield new students into his Advanced Manufacturing program already!  He is starting the year with 16 students including 2 employees of one of his area industry partners, Nestle Water.  

FLATE would like to thank ALL our regional, educational, and industry partners and sponsors for their role in helping promulgate the importance of STEM, its applications in high-tech manufacturing and the latter’s role in positioning the US as a global leader. For more information on FLATE’s summer camps, please contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE, at barger@fl-ate.org. You can also visit FLATE’s camps webpage at fl-ate.org/projects/camps.html.

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