STEM Outreach Activities

Moonbots 2.0 Challenge Team 364

Time until Phase Two ends:



The first week  of LEGO Camp was all about teaching the campers how to build a strong base and make their robots faster or more powerful. The campers learned how gear ratios could be used to build the fastest race bot one day, and then how the same lessons could be applied to construct the slowest and most powerful sumo robot the next. After having to program their robots to navigate a path using nothing but dead reckoning, the campers quickly realized the value and importance of sensors and good programming. Thus, the second week focused on programming robots to complete obstacle courses and other tasks using a variety of sensors. The obstacle courses required the campers to program light sensors to follow a black line and make use of touch sensors to navigate through a maze. Aided by Raider Robotix team members, the campers were able to explore and apply the basic laws of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  The camp culminated in a final challenge that combined all of the previous skills taught.

[See full day-by-day schedule below]

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Our LEGO camp emphasized each of these pillars and gave campers an understanding of why STEM education is so important.

Science gives things an explanation or reason; it tells us why things are the way they are.  The campers can apply the basic lessons they learned at LEGO camp, such as those about gears, to the real world, understanding why their bikes works a certain way, or why a tank is as slow as it is.

Technology embodies using the tools you have to solve the problem in front of you in some novel way. Each day the campers combined LEGO bricks and code blocks in a unique way to enable their robots to overcome different obstacles or achieve some new functionality. We were constantly impressed with their clever solutions.

Engineers improve people’s lives. One day a camper is building a racecar robot. Tomorrow, the camper could be the CEO of a car company that designs environmentally friendly cars. These children are the engineers of the future, and LEGO camp is a way for them to get interested in engineering. Furthermore, engineers must work in groups to develop a solution to a common problem. LEGO camp split the 18 campers into 6 groups of 3, highlighting the importance of teamwork and communication.

Math is needed both for programming and designing mechanical solutions. From determining how many wheel rotations it would take for their robot to travel a set distance, calculating gear ratios, or figuring out the geometry required for an arm, there was not a day that went by in the ten day program where a camper did not use math.

LEGO camp is kids having fun while building robots. It inspires kids to not only think about engineering in the future, but also to constantly think about how things work. It also makes them aware of ways they can continue to pursue STEM related activities right now. For example, many of the campers will become involved in FIRST by joining one of the many local FLL, FTC or FRC teams. Several members of our own team, like Tommy and Joey, are proof of this program’s success, having participated in LEGO camp before joining Raider Robotix. We also invited all of the campers to attend Brunswick Eruption, which is a one-day offseason FRC competition, held at the same high school. Students that go through the FIRST program are twice as likely to pursue STEM fields in the future. They go on to work for companies like Google and NASA, or become inventors like Dean Kamen. We hope that we’ve guided and inspired these 18 bright young kids to pursue engineering in the future, and we hope to keep doing that for the years to come.

LEGO camp was a two week day camp that introduced children ages 10-14 to fundamental engineering and programming concepts. After advertising in the local newspaper, online media, and via word of mouth, the camp filled to its maximum capacity of 18 students. The camp was held in a technology classroom at our team’s high school in North Brunswick from 12:30 to 3pm from July 11 to July 22. Each day, the kids were introduced to a new engineering principle and then tasked with a new mission to complete as a test of what they just learned. Using LEGO RCX controllers, LEGO MINDSTORMS, and a wide array of LEGO bricks, the campers were empowered to turn their imaginative creations into physical realities and develop communication and problem solving skills as they worked in teams.

Week 1

Monday – Today, the campers will learn one of the most important lessons of the camp; how to build a strong base. A robot with a strong foundation is key to success. The campers will build racing robots with LEGO parts and an RCX brick. Raider Robotix students will introduce them to the RCX bricks and wiring motors. Each team of 3 students (6 teams total) will be given 2 RCX motors. Using a preset program, they will race their robots against each other on a track

Tuesday – Today, the campers will be introduced to gears. They will learn that gearing from large to small is better for speed. They will modify and make any adjustments to their old robots to make sure the base is strong, and then add gears to make their robot faster for the race. After adding gears to their robots, the campers will race again on a


Wednesday – Today the campers will continue learning about gear ratios. They will learn that a small gear and a big gear will make the robot more powerful. They will also keep the lessons from the previous days in mind, making sure their base is strong, because in the “Sumo” arena, they must face each other to see whose robot is the strongest.

Thursday – Today the campers will continue with the sumo challenge and modify their robots to make sure it endures the strength of the other robot and pushes it past the black line marking the boundary of the sumo arena. The second half the day will consist of a demo of Raider Robotix’s FRC robot. The campers will get the opportunity to drive the robot and learn all about it.

Friday – Today the campers will begin learning about programming. They will be set up on laptops with LEGO RCX programming. Campers will learn what each programming block, such as “go” and “go for” mean. They will also explore the meaning of dead reckoning, and figuring out how to make their robot follow a certain path. They will then

program their robot to complete the dead reckoning course, which will have various turns and curves to challenge the campers.

Week 2

Monday – Today the campers will continue with the dead reckoning course. They will make sure their robot is still strong and does not break easily, as they will run into things often. Those who have successfully completed the dead reckoning course will also be introduced to touch sensors at the end of the day.

Tuesday – Today the campers will program touch sensors. They will build a whole new robot to make sure it is the strongest it can be so it can withstand the impact of the wall that it must touch. They will then attempt the touch sensor course, which will consist of a series of blocks that robots must touch, come back, and turn left so they can get to the end of the maze.

Wednesday – Today the campers will finish the touch sensor course, and learn about light sensors. They will calculate the darkness values that they must program, and complete the maze, which is essentially a black circle that the robot must follow. The second half of the day will consist of a Moonbots presentation led by Sue, Tommy and Joey. They will teach the campers all about the Moonbots program and the Google Lunar X Prize Challenge. They campers will then play a game of Jeopardy to see how much they learned from the presentation.

Thursday – Today the campers will finish the light sensor course. They will then completely rebuild their robot so it is the strongest robot yet, and add a touch and light sensor. They will need both sensors for the grand challenge.

Friday – Today the campers will try to compete in the grand challenge. The grand challenge begins with a black line the robot must sense, which leads to a maze of blocks, which the robots must use touch sensors to get through. The robot will then re-detect a black line after a maze, which will lead to a ramp that the robot must get over. This will require the campers to gear for power. After the ramp, the campers must use dead reckoning to navigate their robot through a series of turns, which will lead to the finish line. The camp will conclude with a pizza party.