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All a-"bot" fun
Lego Robotics camp combines fun and education
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Lego Robotics Camp instructor Lucas Mather helps Christopher Goode, 11, program his Lego bot. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    So, what do Sumo wrestling and tug-of-war have to do with Legos?
    At the Georgia Southern University Lego Robotics camp, youngsters were introduced to the world of computer programming and project-based learning using NXT Lego Educational Series building kits and competed with their creations.
    Led by Metter Middle School math teacher Lucas Mather, campers learned to build robots with Legos, incorporating various motors and sensors and programming them for competitions.
    The Sumo competition pitted pairs of robots against one another in round-robin fashion to see which one could stay inside the ring the longest. The tug-of-war required campers to design robots with power and strength. Navigating a race course with sensors required a different set of skills. The week ended with a "bot battle."
    While building, problem solving and teamwork were incorporated into each activity, programming was a major emphasis of the camp. By engrossing campers with fun challenges, they were learning computer programming "by accident," according to Mather. It gives them an emotional buy-in to learn.
    "Parents would tell me their children were talking about all of the things they were doing in camp without realizing how much they were learning," he said. "The competition helps, too. It's a way for them to grade themselves on how they are doing."

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