Jack is a big fan of Mark Rober, the youtuber. He eagerly clicks and laughs through every new upload. For his birthday we enrolled him in Mark Rober’s Engineering camp for June. In the class he learned how to brainstorm solutions to problems and use real tools to build his inventions.
The first task was to build something mechanical to solve a food problem. Jack has struggled to cut apples, because the apple slips around he and he doesn’t think he has the strength. His solution was the Apple Annihilator.
The next project was fairly open-ended, to learn how to build and code using an Arduino kit. They just had to make something related to art. He struggled with this, partly because the task was so vague, and because his ideas were bigger than his tools and skills. We had to coach him back down to using the tools in the kit already, and aim for something simple. He ended up making a little music player. I think it turned out great! Some kids didn’t even finish a project in the allotted time.
The final build assignment was to use all these skills to build something that will help with habits. Jack already had in mind that he wanted to made a cat guard, to keep Nimbus from waking him in the early morning. We encouraged him, saying it was the cat’s “habit” that he was trying to fix 🙂
I didn’t get a chance to take pictures, but Ben filmed his final video submission here.
Overall I think it was a great experience for him. It was a lot of work, and less instruction than I had hoped for. But he came out of it with three actual inventions, all made with his own hands! He has said that he is interested in robotics for a long time, and this was another step in the direction, to see if it is something he really wants to pursue.
Right now Jack is doing a two-week camp at his new middle school. He has Strings Orchestra camp first, where is he playing with other enthusiastic musicians and getting to know the great teacher he will have next year. After that he goes across the school campus to Vex IQ Robotics camp. This teacher also seems great. She is a lot of fun and very enthusiastic. She runs the Robotics club that Jack hopes to join next year. It’s limited in size and competes with other schools. I think the engineering camp, and his other experience with programming at home, are giving him great background knowledge on the subject.