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Summer Camps

April 17th, 2018 No comments

Looking for summer camps. Here are some you might be interested in:

CodeCrew has a number of programming and robotics summer camps at various times and locations for grades 1-12. See there website: https://www.code-crew.org/events/ for more information.

Programs include coding, robotics, mobile app development and more….

The library and Cloud 901 have a number of summer camps for students ages 9-18. See http://www.memphislibrary.org/summer-camps/ for more information.

Programs include Robotics (including Lego Mindstorms), STEM, Art, and Music.

Move over soccer moms: Robotics moms take over

April 2nd, 2018 No comments

By ANNIKA HAMMERSCHLAG The Naples Daily News Mar 11, 2018
LINK

IMMOKALEE, Fla. (AP) — Christy Kobes jumps to her sock-and-sandal feet, sending a vibration rippling down the metal bleachers.

“Let’s go! Let’s go! Think destructive thoughts!” she yells to her son’s team.

Her cellphone, attached to a lanyard around her neck, swings back and forth as her enthusiasm builds.

It’s day four of the tournament in Louisville, Kentucky, and Kobes’ voice is strained, though her forceful cheering rises above the other moms that fill the expansive exposition center.

Then, an abrupt pause: She sits down, bows her head, and says a prayer.

Seconds later, she’s back on her feet, bellowing orders to the team.

Kobes is no soccer mom. What she does, she said, is far more demanding.

“The soccer moms, they buy the shoes and sit on their phones while someone else manages their kids’ practice,” she said. “But as a robo mom, I have to do everything.”

Robo mom. As in robotics.

The after-school activity has been credited with drawing children to science and technology fields; mothers tell of little ones staying up into the early morning hours programming and building robots.

Robotics companies have cashed in on the trend, selling assembly kits and organizing regional competitions. Students build their robots to fit the object of the game, which changes each year.

VEX Robotics, one of the country’s leading robotics kit suppliers, hosted the largest-ever robotics world championship competition last April, inviting 1,400 middle and high school and university-level teams from 30 countries to the weeklong event.

Immokalee High School’s two robotics teams, Megazord and Dragonzord, were among the competitors.

As she has done every year since 2015, Kobes drove her son’s team 6½ hours from Spartanburg, South Carolina, to attend the event — a short excursion compared to the journeys taken by the Kazakh, Ethiopian and Thai teams.

That year, the game consisted of two allied teams competing against two others to see how many objects each could throw over to the other side of a 12-by-12 foot rink. The teams with the fewest objects on their sides of the arena after two minutes won.

Slabs of metal scurried around the rink, gathering bundles of foam stars and cubes and flinging them over the divide. A designated team driver operated the bot with a video game controller as their teammates watched the action with furrowed brows.

In a special round, the robots performed the tasks autonomously — that is, if their programming didn’t fail.

Even during manually controlled rounds, the bots often malfunctioned, collided or flipped over, and teams would rush back to their booths between matches to make repairs.

“This is more intense than football,” said robo mom Evelyn Amoros, who co-coaches her son’s robotics team with Kobes. “My heart rate is constantly pumped up.”

As the team circled their robot to fix a mechanical failure, Kobes and Amoros hovered over their shoulders with tools at the ready: batteries, rubber bands, screws and, of course, snacks.

“I would’ve forgotten to eat today if they weren’t here,” said Amoros’ son Greg, 17.

As she nervously chomped on a piece of gum, Amoros gave the team last-minute instructions: focus, win, and don’t forget your protective goggles.

Between cheering and shouting commands, Amoros, 52, a single mother and Spanish teacher, detailed the countless hours she has dedicated to supporting her son’s five-person team. She and other robo moms said their children’s schools were too focused on their traditional sports teams to provide resources to their robotics programs, leaving it up to parents to step in as coaches.

Kobes, 47, a gynecologist, and Amoros taught themselves engineering. Eagerly swiping through photos on her phone, Kobes showed off the classroom trailer she and Amoros helped transform to house a robotics field.

The team had painted an Albert Einstein quote on the wall: It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

“I’m in charge of organizing the team, recruiting members, doing administrative work, making budgets and arranging transport,” Kobes said. “I attend every practice, sometimes seven days a week, from four until sometimes 10 at night. And all through spring break and Easter.”

She and Amoros regularly cook dinner for the team and drive them to competitions on the weekends.

“We’re their mothers,” Kobes said. “We never leave.”

And the commitment has been worth it, they said. Kobes’ son Grant, 17, went from being a shy introvert to spending his evenings on a headset chatting with robotics enthusiasts around the world. He even is a frequent guest commentator on a robotics talk show, and his grades have soared.

As for Amoros, robotics competitions brought her son back to life, she said.

Greg used to be captain of the swim team and a star football player. Sports were his identity, Amoros said.

When he got a concussion playing football, a tumor formed on his brain, triggering chronic seizures. The doctors said he couldn’t play sports anymore. He sank into a deep depression and was homebound for six months. He didn’t want to return to school.

But when Grant introduced him to the world of robotics, Greg discovered a new passion. Robotics, he found, offered the same camaraderie and excitement as contact sports.

Tearing up, Amoros said she couldn’t be more grateful.

“What it’s done for my son is beyond anything I could ever imagine,” she said. “They’ve learned how to care not just about the robot, but each other.”

Amoros remembers the early days when he’d ask her for help with mechanical problems. But now he figures it out on his own.

It’s like letting go of her baby as he takes his first steps, she said.

“He may fall, but he can pick himself up,” she said. “And as a mom, that makes me very happy, and I’ll keep on cheering all his successes and keep wiping the tears when there’s failure.”

Yesnia Diaz, a robo mom who flew in with her 15-year-old son’s team from Puerto Rico, said she too owed a great deal to robotics. Due to a disability that stunted his growth, her son Sebastian Caballero was never able to play competitive sports. He felt like he was missing out.

When Diaz learned about competitive robotics, she made sure he could participate.

She organized bake sales and contacted local TV stations to raise money. Her son’s school was so small that they didn’t have room for a field, so Diaz and her husband, Efrhayn Caballero, built one in their backyard out of wood and zip ties.

Despite all the work, she never forgets her most important role: No. 1 fan.

Decked out in headbands topped with feathered pom poms, Mardi Gras necklaces with bells attached and a Puerto Rican flag draped over their shoulders, Diaz and her daughter cheered on the team through dozens of matches. Diaz wore a fanny pack, but sometimes she wears a tutu instead, she said.

After a win, they paraded around the Louisville convention center waving flags and singing songs.

For the last three years, the team has won the spirit award at regional competitions.

“We want them to know that we’re going to be there for them when things go well and when things don’t go as planned,” Diaz said.

As a parent, she said, she feels accomplished that she has been able to give him this opportunity. Despite being a little person, she said, he has grown so much: Robotics has taught him to appreciate other people’s strengths and how to leverage his own.

Other robo moms said that in addition to encouraging their children to pursue careers in science and technology, robotics has taught them time management skills and how to solve problems under pressure; they have learned how to be leaders but also how to work as a team.

After Greg and Grant won their match — one of about six they played that day — Amoros and Kobes gathered the team with their alliance for a group photo. The teens struggled to hold their smiles as Kobes took an extra few moments to find the right button on her phone.

As they returned to their booth, Kobes and Amoros reflected on their roles as mothers.

The most exciting part of parenting, they agreed, is watching their children find their passions and realize their dreams.

“And whose dreams come true at 17?” Kobes said, nodding toward Greg and Grant who were busy rummaging through a drawer of spare parts. “That’s why we’re cheering so loud.”

At the 2017 competition, the boys’ team qualified for finals and placed 27th in their roughly 200-team division.

They since have graduated from high school and are working toward degrees in engineering — Greg at the University of South Carolina and Grant at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Greg is taking a break from robotics, but Grant volunteers as a referee at high school competitions and started a robotics program in the first month of his freshman year. Without funding or lab space to start, Grant used leftover parts from his high school robot and built a new one on the floor of his dorm room. He plans to take it to compete in the university division at the world championship in April.

Kobes plans to fly out to support him.

Although she is excited for the trip, Kobes said the absence of her son and his team from her daily life has left a void.

The house feels empty, she said.

But things are getting better; she has two other children after all.

One is performing in her school’s rendition of “Beauty and the Beast.” Kobes helped build the set and she plans to attend all four shows. But she fears there won’t be much left to do after the final curtain call.

Her other child is a soccer player, but being a soccer mom just isn’t the same, she said.

Last weekend was the first game of the season.

“I had the lawn chair and everything,” she said. “But it got rained out.”

HELP MEMPHIS TEENS GET TO FIRST ROBOTICS COMPETITION!

February 14th, 2018 No comments

THE CLOCK IS TICKING. . . TO RAISE $5,000 IN 5 WEEKS.

Please help by:

DONATE TODAY!
We’re the Memphis Public Libraries’ Memphis-Mech Warriors, and we need to raise $5,000 to go to the FIRST Robotics competition finals in Houston this April!

There are 3,620 robotics teams world-wide registered to compete in FIRST Robotics competitions. Memphis/Shelby County has 4 teams competing. One of those teams is us… the Memphis Mech-Warriors, the only community-based team. Unlike school-based teams, we’re based out of the Memphis Public Libraries’ CLOUD901 teen learning center where any student in the city can participate.

The Memphis Mech-Warriors have 15 team members from 7 schools, plus 3 home-schools. We are comprised of 6 girls and 9 boys, we’re 70% African American (representative of the Memphis population). The Mech-Warriors plan to compete regionally in Peoria, IL and Knoxville, TN before going to the national competition in Houston, TX in April.

“We want to go to Houston whether we place or not – and we plan to place!” says Memphis-Mech Warriors!

Our goal is to raise $11,300 for:

Renting 2 passenger vans to transport the team (+7 adults; staff/mentors) = $2,000
Hotel rooms (8 x 5 nights @ $150/night) = $6,000
Food (for 22 people @ $30/day = $660/day x 5 days) = $3,300
Total = $11,300

WE HAVE A DONOR WHO WILL MATCH UP TO $5,000!
The team also received grants from FedEx, AZO, Grainger, and Snap-On Tools, but it’s not enough to cover all costs. We have spent a lot of time preparing, and we’re ready to compete!

Background – Robotics help Memphis teens learn 21st century skills like collaboration, creativity, problem solving and critical thinking. Without CLOUD901 and this team, we would not have the opportunity to participate in high level tech programs. Robotics is just one of the many digital and tech skills teens can learn at the Memphis Public Libraries.

According to 2017 TNReady (State of TN), the percentage of Shelby County School students considered on track or advanced in math was only 9.7 percent. According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17%, vs. other occupations at 9.8%. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics workers play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy. STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators. It is clear that most jobs of the future will require a basic understanding of math and science. Without adequate STEM programming, students simply do not have the tools to be competitive in academic achievement or workforce readiness.

Robotics teams are expensive! Most public and even private schools cannot afford to field a team. But the lessons teens are learning from competing in robotics are transformative and lasting. Take a look at this creative parody video, filmed at the Library’s teen lab, CLOUD901. CLOUD901 students, with the help of the library staff, wrote, recorded, and filmed it for viewing at the many FIRST events throughout the season:

DONATE!

[Full disclosure…..the editor of this blog is a Mentor / Coach of this team…..please help them out!]

Categories: Memphis Robotics Tags:

Updated Links

January 31st, 2018 No comments

I didn’t realize how out of date some of my links were on the right hand side….just updated them!

Categories: Memphis Robotics, Robot News Tags:

National Robotics Week!

April 8th, 2017 No comments

Its National Robotics week! https://www.nationalroboticsweek.org/

Categories: Memphis Robotics, Robot News Tags:

Robotic Summer Camps

May 26th, 2016 No comments

Looking for a robotics camp for your kids in Memphis. Here is the list of the one’s I know about:

Cloud 901 at the public library is hosting a few camps for kids interested in robotics and programing. To see the list of camps CLICK HERE

University of Memphis Herff College is hosting its Girls Experiencing Engineering camp which will be focused on robotics this year. See THIS LINK for more details.

Collierville Robotics is hosting two VEX Robotics camps. For more info see THIS WEBSITE

I will add more as I find out about them. If you know of a robotics camp, please let me know so I can post them here….email them to dkohn96@gmail.com.

Categories: Memphis Robotics, Uncategorized Tags:

Students Compete In Louisiana Underwater Robot Competition

May 23rd, 2016 No comments

The Baton Rouge (LA) Advocate (5/21, Richards) reported that the “US Navy National SeaPerch Challenge pitted teams of middle and high school students against each other” as they “raced handmade underwater robot-like contraptions…during a competition Saturday at the LSU Natatorium.” The Advocate says that 536 boys and 273 girls took part, “in line with national trends, where women fill 25 percent of science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs.” Assistant Professor at LSU and director of the Gulf Coast Regional SeaPerch Challenge Bridgette Davis “said the real world application is critical for STEM education in Louisiana, given that much of the state’s economy involves being on or around water.” Executive Director of the SeaPerch Program Susan Nelson said, “We (graduate) less than 70,000 engineers in a year, so there aren’t enough people to fill the pipeline. … (The Navy) likes programs like this because of that reason.”

Ed Note: From Memphis: The Robochiefs from Craigmont High School Ranked 62 overall, 69th in the Obstacle Course 51st in the Challenge Results and 39th in the Poster! Congratulations!

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Whitehaven Elementary Heads to Vex World Championships

April 20th, 2016 No comments

From: WREG

WHITEHAVEN, Tenn. — They are not even old enough to drive cars yet, but these Whitehaven kids are driving robots all the way to an international competition.

Whitehaven Elementary students are leaving to compete in the world robotics championship Wednesday.

WREG’s Katie Rufener caught up with the kids to see how they are preparing and what they have planned for their futures.

“You can like, do anything you want, like make any type of robot,” 9-year-old Aarilyn Yacorps said of why she loves her robotics team.

With a little teamwork and a lot of hard work, these kids from Whitehaven Elementary’s STEM Academy built robots and beat out teams from all across the state to qualify for the world championship.

They are one of three schools from Tennessee competing.

The Whitehaven Elementary School kids spent about two months working on their robotics.

The robots drop orange balls into a bin to earn points in the competition.

This is only the second year they have competed in the VEX competition, and both times they have qualified.

In a neighborhood that deals with a lot of crime, these kids are rising above.

STEM teacher Meagan Michael explained, “We’re an optional school. So these kids test into our school. They have to maintain certain grades.”

They have gotten a lot of community support, and the kids just got a $20,000 grant from Verizon for their program.

And even at such a young age, they are ready to change the world.

“I want to be a biomedical engineer, because that works with medical and engineering, like prosthetics,” Yacorps said.

“You need to find your passion, and don’t let anybody else stop you from having your passion!” 8-year-old Pasley Thompson said.

The kids will leave for the competition in Louisville at 7 a.m. Wednesday and return Sunday.

Doing well in the championship can lead to scholarship opportunities down the road.

Categories: Memphis Robotics Tags:

Collierville Robotics @ TSA Conference

April 19th, 2016 No comments

On Apr 6-9 Collierville HS participated at the TN State TSA conference Vex Robotics Competition and were Tournament Semifinalists (VRC/VEXU).

Congratulations Collierville!!!

See VEX Website

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Collierville HS Wins VEX State Championship

March 11th, 2016 No comments

Congratulations to the Collierville VEX Robotics Team who won the TN State Championship on Saturday in Nashville. The robot named “The Illuminati” was crowned Tournament Champion and will advance to the VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, KY April 20-23. The Illuminati team also received the Sportsmanship award, voted on by the other tournament teams and Shelli Brasher (their coach) received the award for TN VEX Partner of the Year for establishing VEX robotics in West TN.

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The Collierville team is looking for sponsors to help offset transportation, hotel and meals costs. Contact Shelli Brasher at (sbrasher@colliervilleschools.org) if you are interested in helping sponsor the team at the world competition.

Related items:

TVA Cheers on Valley Robotics Team Heading to World Championship

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