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Overview of Teen Raspberry Pi event @ Carlingwood Library featuring Merge Robotics 2706

03/08/2018

On July 14th, a large group of Teens came to the Carlingwood Library to learn about Raspberry Pi to develop their STEM abilities ( Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).   But who ran this, and why do they think that teaching Teens these abilities is important? What exactly are they teaching? Well that's what I wanted to find out

The 7 volunteers who, are part of a much bigger group called Merge Robotics 2706 do these workshops in Ottawa to teach Teens about robotics, as they think that STEM skills are something very important to teach and also that it's good to get ahead on these skills while they are young. They don't only do this for solely the opportunity to teach however. They like to be role models for the Teens, to show them another side of things like robotics. These volunteers also use this to spark interest in robotics, as they get 10% of their group from these workshops.

Merge Robotics 2706 have around 48 members in their robotics team, each with their own specialized roles for building the robot, and during competitions. Unlike other groups they are not bound to a school, which means they do not have designated space to work on the robots, so they have to ask other places to borrow their space. Some of the members, started with little to no knowledge of the subject. But are now able to build and program robots with ease after being with the group for most of their high school career.

The Workshop itself consisted of 3 parts. The first was familiarizing the Teens with Python, the name of the programming language that is used to program the minibots, which are small robots with wheels and a frame. They start off by teaching about what to type into the computer, such as the “Print” function, which can get the computer to say basic phrases. Many other functions were taught and at the end the kids were told to freestyle with the code to see what they could make.

Up next was the drive section, and, by its name you can guess what it’s about. The Teens were taught about the drive command, which allowed their robot to move after they inputted which speeds they wanted the robot to move at. They made the robot go in circles by having one wheel go backwards and one wheel go forwards. At the end they were told to try and make the robot drive in a certain shape, using all the skills they had just learned

The final section was the ultrasound section, teaching the Teens about ultrasound sensors and how they are used to help the robot detect certain objects and avoid crashing into walls. Using even more commands they programmed the robot to detect walls, and told it what to do when it detected a wall, in this case stop it from crashing

The workshop ended there, and was an amazing experience in helping the Teens get ahead on STEM skills.

Ben Lanteigne is a Grade 9 student from Glebe Collegiate HS and member of Carlingwood’s Teen Advisory Group.