Students at the Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley participated in an Introduction to Robotics course where Shelton High School student Keyur Shah taught basic robotics concepts in a hands-on way.
The kids Shah taught ranged from 10 to 12 years old and differed in their experience levels with robotics. Some were part of a robotics team themselves, while others said they knew very little about the field, according to Shah.
He said his idea to teach a course at the Boys and Girls Club came from his experience there when he was younger and was a student himself. He saw the opportunity to give back and took it.
Intro to Robotics aimed to bring student awareness to engineering as a career, which Shah said he plans to take up himself.
“I got started at the age of 10 when my father and I saw an ad for a high-school robotics competition that was open to the public to watch. We were bored so we decided to go and ever since I have been totally fascinated by engineering,” said Shah.
The course was taught using the LEGO Mindstorms kit, which is also the set used for many middle school robotics competitions, according to Shah. The introduction course covered building and programming simple robots and eventually teamed up to create a “self-driving car.”
They learned how to use the NXT edition LEGO block-based programming language and were able to write complex programs for systems ranging from thermometers to line-followers. Shah said NXT LEGO product is one that he has been working with since he began working in robotics and is one of many available.
In addition to being a former attendee of the Boys and Girls Club himself, Shah has been a dean’s list nominee of the award-winning Shelton Robotics Team #230, the Gaelhawks.
“My goal was to create enough interest to start a formal Boys & Girls Club robotics team that eventually would compete in the FLL (or FIRST LEGO League) competition. If we can start an FLL team, then I believe that that will be a self-sustaining program and we won’t have a need for an introductory workshop like this one. After all, the best way to learn is by doing and there is no better way to do something than by introducing a bit of competition,” said Shah. “I hope to be able to teach this course again at the Boys and Girls Club, and maybe elsewhere. The feedback I have received so far has been very positive from both students and staff at the club.”