WENTWORTH — Bionic Teens shined their medal earlier this week as problem solvers, engineers,creative thinkers and designers.

4-H members from Rockingham, Guilford, Stokes, Caswell and Person counties gathered at the Rockingham County Agricultural Center July 30- Aug. 1 for a three-day robotics camp.

The program helped introduce kids to the robotics curriculum,” said Rockingham County 4-H Youth Development Extension Agent Morgan Maness.

While the camp might not be typical historic youth development program the public is used to seeing, robotics has given the 4-H program a high tool in its goal in educating young people and growing the next generation of leaders with skills to succeed.

“15 years ago, we were not doing this with the kids,” said Maness, who thanked the United Way of Rockingham County for funding that made the camp possible. “The STEM programs are very important and a lot these kids have never done anything like this so we give them this opportunity.”

“This is a beginning for them to learn some of the skills and continue forward,” said Maness, who added that leaders also have discussed the career paths that can be taken with a robotics background.

The 4-H youth in attendance were also given a glimpse of future robotics opportunities at the high school level, through demonstrations done by the Morehead High School robotics team.

Day one of the camp focused on team-building and ingenuity as 4-Hers turned to the drunk drawer to build functioning catapults that used natural force to launch objects.

On day two, campers were greeted with Lego Education WeDo kits, a hands-on STEM solution that combines Legos and software to allow students to discover computational thinking and engineering principles, while building their own functional robot.

Day three, programming was kicked up a notch with the LEGO MindStorms EV3 — a robot build kit that features software to also program movement.

On Thursday, 4-H participants built and re-assessed their programming, with the objective of acing the exact movements need to complete different staged mazes and courses.

Dale Painter of the Person County 4-H group, said he enjoyed the new friendships created over the three-day camp and the learning process that went into programming robots. The 13-year-old said the camp has helped peak his interest in future robotics opportunities.

“I knew a little bit about programming but this has brought the programming to a bigger level to help me program more,” Painter said.

12-year-old Dakota Wrenn of Caswell County said that her first experience with programming and robotics was a good one and that she enjoyed the team atmosphere.

“I think it’s fun,” Wrenn said. “You have all these people that can help you build it and program it, so you’re not just by yourself.”

Wrenn found the three-day robotics exploration to be an interesting experience.

“It’s a whole lot of hands on and you get to experience it for yourself,” Wrenn said. “It might also pay off in the future.

To learn more about Rockingham County 4-H, contact Maness by calling the Rockingham County Center at 336-342-8230.

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Joe Dexter is a staff writer for RockinghamNow. He can be reached at 336-349-4331 ext. 6139 or @JoeDexter_RCN on Twitter.

Joe Dexter is a staff writer for RockinghamNow and covers Reidsville, Wentworth, courts, crime and government.

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