Robotics blends ingenuity, creativity

Jul 15, 2021

A volcano was scheduled to erupt at a Dartmouth High School science lab July 16.

But no one was particularly worried.

The volcano was imaginary. But the students attending the robotics summer program at Dartmouth High School created a real solution to the problem.

Before the volcano blew, supplies needed to be accessed and placed in safe locations. 

The students had to create a robot that could move those necessary supplies to various settings outside the volcano before the eruption. To do that, they worked together at the robotics summer camp at Dartmouth High School.

The camp was led by members of the Dartmouth High School Robotics Club. 

The class offers “more resources’’ than the students might have at home to build a robot, said Anna Camisa, 17, an incoming senior at the high school, robotics club member and one of the leaders of the class.

“We hope this will pique their interest and maybe they will become an engineer,’’ she said. “But if not, it’s still a way to have fun in the summer.’’

The robotics course was held for three hours each weekday during two separate sessions. The final session ended July 16.

As part of the pre-eruption “volcano’’ evacuation, extra points were awarded to students whose robot could maneuver up and around a ramp in the middle of the staged area.

That gave James Fonseca, 14, an idea: He added a lift to his robot to better access the ramp. 

“It’s interesting how you do different things and come up with different ideas,’’ he said.

Building creativity, problem-solving skills and teamwork are some of the benefits of robotics, according to members of the Robotics Club.

“I like to build stuff and it’s a lot of fun,’’ said William Roy, 12, one of the participants. 

“I enjoy robots and coding, so I thought this would be great for a pastime,’’ said Owen Beaulieu, 12. 

For Melanie Khatib, 11, robotics is something of a family tradition. 

Her grandfather, a professor at Stanford University, is a robotics enthusiast who shared books about the topic with her.

“I thought that was interesting,’’ she said.

She hopes that getting more women involved in robotics “sends the message that girls can do anything that guys can.’’

The Robotics Club members reached out to students at the middle school and elementary schools to generate interest, said Nayan Bala, an incoming junior. She said she hopes they can expand their recruitment efforts beyond Dartmouth in future years.

The camp was a success for both the students leading it and those participating, club advisor Sam Brodsky said.  

“It's really amazing that they planned and executed two weeks of top-notch robotics camp themselves,’’ he said. “It's a great experience for both the younger students in the camp and the older students teaching it. ‘’