Robotics students offer technology camp


Student leaders from the Kealakehe Robotics Team are offering the 2014 Kona STEM Camp as a fun, educational alternative this summer.

The camp will feature a half day of training in robotics, CAD, video game design, computer programming, and engineering led by high school students and a half day of activities in different STEM fields led by more than 20 partner organizations and companies.

Kona STEM Camp runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through June 6 and is open to students in third through eighth grade in public, private, home, and charter schools. Tuition is $200 for free or reduced lunch students and $250 for others. Scholarships are available for students in need. Tuition includes lunch and snacks.

The program was set up in 2013 to provide students with an opportunity to explore new technologies and STEM programs. The 2013 camp was largely led by seniors who wanted to give back to the community before going to college. Original project leader Taylor Quanan explained why making this a reality was so important to her.

“Growing up in Hilo, I saw a lot of opportunities in STEM fields in elementary school,” she said. I wanted to bring those opportunities to the students here in Kona; KSC is a great start to making that a reality.”

Her main protege will be sophomore Kaitlyn Mallardi, who has been working for the past 30 weeks to put the program together. To help her make the program a reality, Mallardi has recruited more than 20 high school students who are volunteering the first week of summer break this year.

Junior Josiah Clark and sophomore Dylan Reilly-Gober, co-coordinators for the robotics sessions, hope to share their knowledge of building and engineering with Hawaii’s youth.

“I learned a lot on how to teach the students at the last camp,” said Reilly-Gober. “It is a delicate balance when working with a new technology. I need to give them just enough information to get them rolling without taking away the excitement of letting them figure it out on their own.” He added, “It will be a blast!” — a reference to the many explosion experiments at the camp.

Senior Dan Andrade, who has committed to the Uinversity of Texas at Austin to study computer science next year, wants the students to engage with the computer activities as part of their digital citizenship.

“These kids will build digital worlds and use CAD to 3-D print supplies and tools the same way that we use cellphones and Microsoft Office today,” he said. “This new frontier of technology is exciting, but also a bit scary. The younger we can expose the kids to the technology the more we can help them become responsible citizens and consumers.”

In addition to the daily robotics and design sessions, the camp will have days dedicated to astronomy, marine science, geology and architecture. The camp will finish with a mini science fair where the students will share what they learned and report the data on all of their experiments.

The high school students fundraised all year to provide scholarships for the campers to attend. As of May 13, the team had awarded more than $5,000 in scholarships

For more information, call 854-4066, email KonaSTEM@gmail.com or visit kealakeherobotics.org/camp.