BRIDGING THE GAP

For the first time this summer, a LEGO robotics camp will be offered to kids in Jackson County.

Guided by Joe Fuehne, director of Purdue University College of Technology in Columbus, the camp will give boys and girls in Grades 3 through 6 a hands-on experience while exploring science, engineering, technology and math concepts.

“They have fun, but they are learning at the same time, and that’s something that they don’t even realize,” said Fuehne, who also is an associate professor of mechanical engineering technology.

Presented by Jackson County Industrial Development Corp., the LEGO robotics camp will be from 9 a.m. to noon June 8 through 12 at the Jackson County Learning Center, 323 Dupont Drive, Seymour.

The cost is $50 per camper with scholarships available upon request. Kids need to be registered by May 29.

So far, there are about 10 campers signed up, and the program can take 30. It includes a T-shirt, snacks and prizes.

Participants will be provided with the LEGO products and the components of modular sensors, motors and electromechanical parts to be used to build robots that are controlled by a programmable LEGO “brick” computer. Eventually, the kids, who will be divided into pairs, will have a chance to try a challenge with their final models.

The week will allow them to learn the basic concepts of how real-life mechanical systems operate while also using their own imaginations to build their own creations.

Fuehne said the camp is an opportunity to introduce mechanical robots to kids, which is an essential part of manufacturing today.

“We try to make those connections to the students throughout the week — maybe this is something you could do for a career. I always try to emphasize that,” said Fuehne, who has taught LEGO robotics camps in Columbus, Greensburg, North Vernon and Shelbyville.

Jackie Hill, workforce director for JCIDC, said there is currently a robotics camp at Aisin each year that targets seventh- through ninth-graders, so offering this LEGO camp for third- through sixth-graders would offer a pathway into the VEX robotics competition teams in high school.

“Currently, four of our five high schools in Jackson County have a VEX robotics program, and we just held our first countywide tournament in March of this year,” Hill said.

Fuehne said the camp also is a time for kids to have fun away from watching television, using the phone or playing video games — a philosophy he has had with his own son, who is now studying engineering at Purdue University.

“I still have that same philosophy, and this summer activity is a good thing,” he said.

At a glance

For information and to request registration forms, contact Jackie Hill at jackiehill@jcidc.com or Jody Deckard at jodydeckard@jcidc.com or call 812-522-4951.

Registration forms also can be found at jcidc.com.

If you go

What: Purdue University College of Technology Summer 2015 LEGO Robotics Camp

When: 9 a.m. to noon, June 8 through 12

Where: Jackson County Learning Center, 323 Dupont Drive, Seymour

Cost: $50 per camper with scholarships available upon request

Deadline: Register by May 29