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Robot camp offers fun way for teens to discover programming, tech careers

Campers learn basic programming skills as they work in teams alongside IU tech pros to command LEGO® Mindstorms® robots

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.— It's the rise of the machines all over again at Indiana University this summer. For the ninth straight year, IU's Pervasive Technology Institute (PTI) is hosting its Ready, Set, Robots! camps for area teens in grades 7-12.
These hands-on workshops require no prerequisites or computer programming skills, just a curious mind and an interest in technology. Participants will learn basic computer programming skills as they work in teams alongside IU technology professionals to command LEGO® Mindstorms® robots to simulate a Mars rover mission. New this year, PTI is offering an advanced camp for teens with previous programming or Mindstorms® experience.
All camps take place from 9am to 3:30pm in IU’s Cyberinfrastructure Building (CIB), 2709 E. Tenth Street.
University Information Technology Services Research Technologies, a service and cyberinfrastructure center of PTI, is offering the following robot camp sessions this year:

  • First camp, for grades 7–12 (no experience required): June 4–5
  • Second camp, for grades 7–12 (no experience required): June 25-26
  • Advanced camp, for grades 7-12 (computer programming or LEGO® Mindstorms® experience required): July 16-17

Each workshop finishes with the campers showing off their programming skills at a friendly competition called the Robot Grand Challenge. Campers' parents, friends and the general public are welcome to attend the Grand Challenge at 2pm in the CIB lobby on the second day of each camp.

Afterward, staffers will lead tours of the IU Data Center, which houses the university's most prized networking, computer processing and data storage equipment, including the Big Red II supercomputer.

Even though there's lots of learning going on at Ready, Set, Robots!, the focus is on fun — and future career skills.

"One of our main goals is to give young people a chance to gain real programming experience in a group setting," said Robert Ping, UITS Research Technologies' education and outreach manager. "The kids work in teams and learn that in order to be successful they need to discuss ideas -- they can't just work alone on the computer. Learning how to express your own ideas and also be a good listener are skills they can carry forward to any career."

Watch the Ready, Set, Robots! promotional video:

About Pervasive Technology Institute
The Pervasive Technology Institute (PTI) at Indiana University is a world-class organization dedicated to the development and delivery of innovative information technology to advance research, education, industry and society. Established in part by a $15 million grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., PTI is built upon a spirit of collaboration and brings together researchers and technologists from a range of disciplines and organizations, including the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IU Bloomington, the IU Maurer School of Law, and University Information Technology Services at Indiana University. For more information, see