UA Little Rock to host robotics camp for elementary students, teachers

The Just a Prototype robotics team members include: Back row (L-R) Jamie Burrows, Rachel Smith, Shala Nail, and Donetha Groover. Front row (L-R) David Shurley , FLN the robot, and Faculty Advisor Sandra Leiterman.

During a summer camp for elementary students, a University of Arkansas at Little Rock robotics coach will offer fellow educators the chance to learn how to start robotics teams at their schools. 

Sandra Leiterman, math specialist in the UA Little Rock Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Educational Center, will lead a VEX IQ Robotics summer camp for students entering third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grades.

The camp will be held from 8 a.m. to noon July 31 to Aug. 4 in the Engineering Technology and Science (ETAS) building on the UA Little Rock campus. The cost is $125. A limited number of scholarships are available for students with a financial need.

Students will learn hardware design, programming, teamwork, problem solving, and leadership skills.

“We thought it would be a great way to introduce robotics to elementary students who don’t have robotics teams at their schools, and it promotes an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education,” Leiterman said. “We hope these students will go back to their teachers and ask them to start robotics teams in their schools.”

In addition to students eager to learn about robotics, educators may attend the summer camp for free to learn how they can create a robotics team at their own schools.

“One of the biggest hang ups of teachers starting robotics programs is that they think they are in over their head or under qualified,” Leiterman said. “This camp can show teachers how easy it is. There are also grants available. I can show teachers how to get a grant, so they can basically come and see how to get a robotics team started for very little cost.”

VEX IQ is a snap-together robotics system designed from the ground up to provide educational opportunities to future engineers of all skill levels. The VEX IQ program, which is for elementary school students, is the predecessor for robotics competitions at the middle school/high school (VEX EDR) and university (VEX U) levels.

Leiterman is the coach of the only VEX U robotics team in Arkansas. While most robotics teams are staffed by engineering students, UA Little Rock’s squad, dubbed Just a Prototype,”  is made up of future math and science teachers who will one day start school robotics teams.

She also coaches two robotics teams at Mills High. One of the teams is an all-girls team, the Uncut Diamonds, which has made four national championship appearances.

Members of all three of Leiterman’s robotics teams will work at the camp. The funds raised will be used to purchase parts to build robots and to attend competitions.

Applications can be found online at http://tinyurl.com/UALRVEXIQ.

For more information, contact Leiterman at saleiterman@ualr.edu or 920.227.8576.

In the upper right photo, the Just a Prototype robotics team members include: Back row (L-R) Jamie Burrows, Rachel Smith, Shala Nail, and Donetha Groover. Front row (L-R) David Shurley, FLN the robot, and Faculty Advisor Sandra Leiterman.

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