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Oak Ridge Robotics Academy teaches students robotics engineering

2015 Oak Ridge Robotics Academy teaches students robotics engineering for 6th year in a row

July 20, 2015

Students assemble a robot’s arm

Josie Fellers and teammate Olivia Jones assemble their robot's arm at the ORAU Oak Ridge Robotics Academy

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—Twenty-six 7th, 8th and 9th-grade students from the East Tennessee area recently spent a week designing, building and programming robots during the 6th annual ORAU Oak Ridge Robotics Academy. Held at ORAU's Center for Science Education, the week-long, free camp was led by Instructors Tad Douce and Ed Goodwin both co-directors of the National Robotics Challenge with help from Kayla Canario, the 2011 Extreme Classroom Makeover contest runner-up and the technology coordinator for Bearden Middle School.

Students were randomly placed into teams and faced daily engineering challenges such as programming their robots to solve a maze without being controlled or designing an arm to pick up a tennis ball.

“We call it a robotics academy, but it's really an engineering academy,” said director Tad Douce. “Our main goal is to get the students to work with others, think logically and solve problems.”

As part of the academy, participants visited Oak Ridge National Laboratory and witnessed large-scale applications of robotics and engineering technologies. “I just think it's cool that we can take wheels, motors, and nuts and bolts and can make a machine that moves on its own,” says first-time participant Josie Fellers, 12, from Robertsville Middle School. Fellers hopes to become a robotics designer/engineer and possibly work for ORNL.

The academy was one of various ORAU-sponsored or administered programs this summer designed to excite students about STEM subjects. For how to apply and further information visit the Oak Ridge Robotics Academy website.

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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