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Campers show off robots, rockets in Girls STEAM Week

August 1, 2018

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — Campers maneuvered robots around obstacles, launched paper rockets and displayed photos they’d taken while painting with light during their final day of STEAM Girls Week, one of the sessions offered this summer at Area 59, a new Gillette College facility.

“I love science, so I was really excited about the camp,” said Hallie Chase, 13. “It’s a great opportunity for girls to learn science because often people think it’s just for boys, but girls can learn and do science, too.”

On a recent Thursday, Chase demonstrated an elaborate obstacle course, guiding a robot around yellow cones and launching balls from the robot’s arms to knock over Styrofoam cutouts painted with custom designs.

“It’s harder than it looks,” she said as she tried to angle the robot over a cardboard bridge.

In another room, campers used an iPhone to control a snake-like robot, getting it to open its mouth and to shake its tail as it slithered across a piece of cardboard.

Parents wandered around Area 59, checking out the tools their children learned to use and watching the campers work together to command robots to pick up and push blocks arranged on a metal board. Campers cheered each other on as they succeeded in gathering the blocks and encouraging them as they neared their one-minute time limit for the game.

“It has been fun to learn about different technologies and then have a chance to design, build and test them out ourselves,” said Adelaide Plett, 12.

Parents also watched campers shoot paper rockets from a PVC-pipe launcher, sending them sailing across the room toward a paper bull’s-eye. Most of the rockets, which the campers decorated with colorful duct tape, zoomed past the target and hit the back wall of the building. But the campers weren’t discouraged.

“The best part of the camp was taking our rockets to the football field and shooting them there,” said Malia Andersen, 14. “It was so windy that we had no idea where they would go.”

Director Ian Scott hopes some of the girls will be inspired by the session to join a robot league he is starting this fall for fourth- through 12th-graders. Students will design and build robots that they’ll use in competitions around the region.

Girls STEAM Week is one of a handful of new camps taking place this summer at Area 59.

“I think it’s been a success so far,” Scott said. “If we gauge by how much fun the kids are having and whether they want to come back the next day, then it’s definitely been a success.”

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Information from: The Gillette (Wyo.) News Record, http://www.gillettenewsrecord.com

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