female students work on robot

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Students from across Buncombe County programmed and built their way to a fun, robotics filled summer. Rising ninth graders and a few older high school students from around the county converged at Martin L. Nesbitt, Jr. Discovery Academy using the newest technology to create working, moving robots. Not only did the students race them with remote controls, but through the help of various sensor systems, created autonomous robots able to make their way through a changing maze.

“We use a visual, block coding language for the summer camp, but if students do well they can go on to the high-school robotics program and eventually program in C++,” said Robotics teacher Randal Hylemon. “They first build the robot so that it can race, which is a big challenge, getting the wheels and turning to work. Then we take away the controller and they get to programming. The robot has to go a distance to a standing card and move without knocking it over and work its way through a maze.”

The student groups challenged themselves, building their robots iteratively, adapting them with challenges and changing their structure as issues arose. When the lightbulb went off and students exclaimed “I got it!”, Mr. Hylemon beamed with pride.

“That’s the reason I do it,” he said. “That moment is important.”