This summer, young writers brought their stories to life with robots at UNCG.

Writing and Robotics, a companion program for the university’s two-week Young Writers Camp, allowed 12 campers to simultaneously explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and the arts. They worked on their literary masterpieces each morning, and their afternoons were devoted to designing, building, programming and decorating robots based on those stories.

For Tali Jones, a rising ninth grader, what started out as a silly drawing quickly shaped up to be an epic tale about a knight with fabulous hair and his quest for greatness. Her robot was equally epic.

“One of the lines in my story is that he ‘killed a dragon with a quill and a milk bucket,’” Jones said, as she explained her robot’s design.

Constructed almost entirely of wood and fabric, her knightly robot sports realistic locks and moving arms. He holds a quill in one hand and a milk bucket in the other.

Eleven-year-old Asa Thompson used foam board and a box to create his robotic dinosaur, and with a handful of taps on the keyboard and a few clicks of the mouse, the dinosaur come to life. Its LED eyes lit up, the arm moved and it began to roar.

“I programmed it,” he proudly said.

Writing and Robotics was just one of many summer programs held in UNCG’s very own makerspace. Transforming Teaching through Technology’s Learning Factory Camp, along with the Bryan School’s IT (information technology) is for Girls camp held sessions in the SELF Design Studio as well. During the school year, the space is a place for pre-service teachers to learn how to integrate technology and creativity into the classroom.

Housed on the third floor of the School of Education, there’s a special kind of magic that unfolds in the SELF Design Studio. Equipped with craft supplies, hardware and innovative technology such as a 3-D printer, circuitry kits, a laser cutter and robotics tools, it’s a place where creativity takes flight and learning ensues.

“It amazes me how children can learn from creativity,” said Anna Jordan, a Writing and Robotics counselor and rising senior in UNCG’s School of Education. “The campers were taught how to use technology tools, and now they’re using those tools to bring their stories to life.”

 

Story by Jeanie McDowell, University Communications
Photography by Alycee Byrd, Photography Intern, University Communications