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Home > News & Events > Press Releases > 2009 > Middle school students learn about robotics at Northern Virginia Community College

Press Releases

Middle school students learn about robotics at Northern Virginia Community College

August 10, 2009

(from left) Jeffrey DelSordo, Jacob Kinser, Jared Zurn and James Erickson proudly show off the winning robot they built during the “Basic Engineering/Robotics Principles and Active Construction Camp” at Northern Virginia Community College in Manassas.
(front row from left) Melody Gordon, Rishub Nagpal, Jose Coloma and Hallye Attaway won the robot contest at NVCC&amp;#8217;s Woodbridge Campus. (back row) Bill Willis, Prince William County Public Schools; Dee Martin, NVCC; Lisa Donaldson, NVCC; Hortense Hinton, NVCC; Amy Harris, Micron Technology; and David Eshelman, Prince William County Public Schools, enjoyed the competition.<br/>
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Could you assemble sprockets, gears, sensors, wheels, motors and various other parts into a working robot? That’s what middle school students did this summer during two sessions of “Basic Engineering/Robotics Principles and Active Construction Camp” at Northern Virginia Community College.

Twenty-four students participated in the one-week camp from July 13 to 17 at NVCC’s Woodbridge Campus, with another 26 students at the camp from July 27 to 31 at Innovation Park, part of the Manassas Campus.

Working in teams, the students built robots from kits and programmed them to perform several movements. The students also learned about real-world applications from local manufacturers that employ advanced technology. On the final day of each camp, parents were invited to watch the students test their robots during a friendly competition. Members of the winning teams received $25 gift cards.

At the conclusion of the Woodbridge camp, the triumphant team members were Hallye Attaway from Saunders Middle School, Jose Coloma from Godwin Middle School, Melody Gordon (home schooled) and Rishub Nagpal from Saunders Middle School.

In Manassas, Jeffrey DelSordo from Pennington School, James Erickson from Metz Middle School, Jacob Kinser from Marsteller Middle School and Jared Zurn from Manassas Park Middle School were the champions. Zurn said the best part of the camp was “being able to build the robot, drive it and see how it worked out.” Erickson enjoyed “making friends and robots.”

One of the parents enthusiastically endorsed the camp. “My son was up in the morning without being called, ate a quick breakfast and was ready to go, and he never gets up and gets going that quickly. He loves this stuff!”

Lockheed Martin, Micron Technology, Manassas City Public Schools, Manassas Park City Schools and Prince William County Public Schools partnered with NVCC to offer the camps. Bill Willis, physics teacher and robotics technology facilitator for Prince William County middle and high schools, was the camp coordinator, and four Prince William County teachers led the camps. Patricia Kramolich and Dennis Silveri taught the Woodbridge camp, and Sherry Hilberg and Josh Labrie taught the Manassas camp.

Dee Martin, dean of the Manassas Science and Applied Technologies Division, organized the camps with Lisa Donaldson, dean of the Woodbridge Business and Social Sciences Division. “The strong support from our local school systems and community partners made the camps successful,” Martin said. “Because the camps were so popular, we’re already planning for additional sessions next summer.”

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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 60,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.