Robots Take Over University

We've all seen movies about robots taking over...but, some high school students are taking their computer knowledge, and learning how to control robots.

This summer program at Winona State University isn't for everybody. These high school kids from all over Minnesota and Wisconsin are trying to make computer programming fun by teaching these robots a thing or two.

"Well I really like robots and programming”, says high school student Alessandro Lira. “I'm kind of a nerd about that and it looked like a really good program."

The robotics workshop tries to show kids that computer programming isn't just sitting in front of a computer screen. Teachers say the students get to assemble small robots and teach them how to move and avoid objects.

"It's pretty cool,” says Lira. “When you touch a whisker or it hits an obstacle, you can program the robot so that it turns away from or backs up or whatever you want. You sit on the computer for hours just running this program, but the second you push start and it works, it's just this awesome moment of "Yes! I did it it works!"

Gary Bunce is a professor at Winona State and runs the robotics workshop. He says what he tries to do over the four day workshop is reinforce and extend his students programming knowledge.

"It gives them some problem solving capability. Robots are a good vehicle for that because they're excited by robots. Robots give a visual output for what program commands do."

Bunce says his favorite part of the program is watching these future robot wizards create.

"What I enjoy most is seeing the creativity that they have and the speed in which they pick it up. It's amazing how fast they pick up the material."

Lira says his favorite part of the week is just working together with classmates to make his robot run.

"It's really fun, really good stuff if you like robots or programming or even if you're interested in it, I would suggest this program."

The robotics workshop is held once a year from July 15-18. If you would like more information, you can call 507-457-5385.

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