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Robots battle it out at Science Adventure Summer Camp

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Viel Kim, center, battles his robot during Summer Science Adventure Day Camp at ECU's Science and Technology Building on Aug. 7, 2019.


Karen Eckert
Staff Writer

Saturday, August 10, 2019

"Who needs a brain?" shouted a robotics volunteer at a summer science day camp held at ECU on Wednesday.

Turns out that all the campers needed one, as a "brain" was the term for the motors that powered the campers' handcrafted cardboard robots that were battling it out in a Robot Sumo tournament.

Earlier in the day, the 35 participants at the Summer Science Adventure Day Camp, who ranged in age from rising second graders to rising eighth graders, had worked in teams to design and construct their robots. Now they were putting them to the test.

In the 28-round competition, using a remote-control device, each team had one minute to get its robot to knock another team's robot out of a ring outlined in masking tape on the floor of a classroom in ECU's Science and Technology building.

The tournament was the culmination of a day-long learning adventure hosted by the ECU Korean Faculty Interest Group and the Korean American Scientists and Engineers Association, Greenville Branch, and sponsored by the Korean Association of the Greenville Area.

"All the activities in this program are hands on," said Seok Yoon, chairman of the Korean Association and organizer of the event.

Volunteers like Bill and Ann McClung with the Pitt Pirates First Robotics Competition team assisted at the camp, along with teen members of the First Robotics Competition.

Bill, who is the lead mentor for the Pitt Pirates team, oversaw the tournament while Ann supervised the robot repair station, handing out "brains."

A robot by the name of "Pom Pom" designed and operated by Michelle Ahn, a rising fourth grader, and Chaeun Han, a rising third grader, both of whom attend Wintergreen Elementary, ended up winning the tournament.

Team Pom Pom said that they were surprised they had won. Neither girl had previous experience with building robots or being in a robot competition.

Ahn, who said that when she grows up she wants to be a veterinarian or a math professor like her dad, also said it was exciting to build the robot.

As far as how the girls designed their robot, "we just thought of the idea somehow," Ahn said.

"Everyone got help to make their robot," she said, giving high praise to the particular volunteer who had assisted her team.

"We are so glad we invited (the Pitt Pirates team)," Yoon said.

Babs Harrell, a parent, said she also was impressed by the teens from the First Robotics Competition team who assisted at the camp.

"They were awesome," she said.

Organizers invited parents to stick around and observe the camp's activities.

Harrell, who had driven her two sons and four more youngsters to the camp from Edgecombe County, chose to stay all day and watch the action, she said.

Harrell said she knows the kids learned a lot and she did as well.

In addition to robotics, the campers participated in physics experiments, built a computer and created a structure in the 3-D computer game, Minecraft.

Bronson Harrell, 13, who would one day like to be a video game designer, said he liked the computer session.

"I liked how we got to assemble computers and learned how to replace parts inside of computers," said Harrell who is home-schooled at Tarboro Edgecome Christian Academy.

In physics, the campers learned about liquid nitrogen, the Van de Graaff generator and superconductivity, Harrell said.

This was the second year the camp was held, according to organizers.

Approximately one-third of the campers were affiliated with the Korean Association or the Greenville Chinese School, but the rest of the campers came from Greenville in general as well as outside the Greenville area, Yoon said.

The camp aims to include a diverse group, including minorities and international students, Yoon said.

The fee for the day-long camp was $20 per camper and included lunch and materials. Time and talent was donated by volunteers, including ECU professors who belong to the Korean Faculty Interest Group.

It is a way to give back to the community, Yoon said.

For more information about https://prezi.com/p/s_oba20zs__v/korean-association-of-greenville-area.