WHAT WORKS IN KENTUCKY

Aquabots Camps Swim
into Simpson County

Aquabots is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) summer camp that teaches girls about underwater robotics, or “waterbotics,” using the Lego Mindstorm system. The camp is designed to promote interest and enjoyment of science and engineering study in junior high and high school girls.

For the past two years, the Kentucky Girls STEM Collaborative has held “Aquabots Educator Training” workshops in Lexington, KY. “The rationale was ‘train the trainer,’ with the hopes of these educators offering summer camps in their communities,” says Sue Scheff, Co-Chair of the Kentucky Girls STEM Collaborative. “Along with three other colleges across the United States, we were trained using curriculum for the camp provided by ‘Waterbotics,’ a scale-up grant funded by the National Science Foundation awarded to Stevens Institute of Technology.

“The rationale was to ‘train the trainer,’ with the hopes of these educators offering summer camps in their communities.”

SUE SCHEFF, KENTUCKY GIRLS STEM COLLABORATIVE

Now, it seems these investments are starting to pay off, as Aquabots camps are now springing up in Simpson County, Kentucky. This summer, Simpson County Schools and Community Education hosted the camp at the Franklin-Simpson High School Career and Technology Center.

“The Waterbotics curriculum starts with programming basics and familiarizes the students with Lego equipment,” said Robin Hollingsworth, Community Education Director for Simpson County. “The first lesson provides an opportunity for experienced students to mentor and teach novice students. This reinforces their depth of knowledge increasing their own confidence to teach others. Taylor Alford, a rising sophomore at FSHS, attended camp the two previous summers. Taylor returned this summer to volunteer as a mentor to the other students.”

In addition to introducing students to science and engineering concepts, the Aquabots camps offered participants a chance to connect with successful STEM professionals, says Hollingsworth. “Community Education invites local engineers to visit the camp and present during lunch break. This summer, Mary McDaniel, Engineering Intern, Berlin Woodall, Process Engineer, Randee Durham, Human Resources Manager, and Sharon Cox Sr. Human Resources Generalist, stopped by the 2015 Aquabots Camp to observe Engineering Design Process and problem solving methods, software programming, robotic equipment, teamwork and achievement.”

This year’s camp was sponsored by the Franklin-Simpson Educational Excellence Foundation and Harman.

“Engaging in the practices of engineering helps students understand the work of engineers, as well as the links between engineering and science.”

ROBIN HOLLINGSWORTH, SIMPSON CO. SCHOOLS

Hollingsworth acknowledged the dramatic impact that hands-on activities like Aquabots can have on students, “Engaging in the practices of engineering helps students understand the work of engineers, as well as the links between engineering and science. Participation in these practices also helps students form an understanding of the crosscutting concepts and disciplinary ideas of science and engineering; moreover, it makes students’ knowledge more meaningful and embeds it more deeply into their worldview.”

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