Barbados Junior Robotics Camps
The Barbados Junior Robotics Camps are annual summer enrichment programs for young Barbadian students interested in robotics. The aim of the day camps is to introduce basic technology and engineering concepts to children. The camps are targeted at children who are passionately interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and enjoy hands-on work. The camps are held in partnership with the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) is also a key partner in our educational programs.
The camps were first offered in 2015 at Level I. In 2016, a Level II was added, and in 2017 a special Level IIA was added to the existing Levels I and II. In 2018, a Level III will also be offered. The Camps are designed and run by the CSF Volunteers for Barbados (see CSF Volunteers for Barbados) and the Camps make use of the facilities of the UWI Cave Hill Campus.
At the Camp, students participate in team-based projects in a fun environment, supervised by approximately 5 coaches per camp, under the direction of a Head Instructor. Students from low-income households and girls are encouraged to apply. The aim is a balanced class of 50% girls and boys. Students apply directly to the CSF for admission, but a recommendation from their Principal or a science teacher is required. The typical student who is admitted into the Junior Robotics Camp is curious about science and his/her surroundings, is eager to acquire knowledge in the areas of science and mathematics, and performs consistently well at school in the subjects of science and mathematics.
Effecting education reform is key, and the promotion of STEM-focused activities like these camps will improve awareness and create and ignite passion in our young people. There is also the potential for starting after-school robotics clubs at various schools across the island as yet another outcome of the Camps.
The broader vision is that: (1) the growing interest in robotics will spawn the formation of robotics clubs in our schools, (2) more Caribbean students will become skilled enough to compete with other youngsters in international robotics competitions, (3) the youngsters who participate in such camps will have a head start in joining the technology-competent workforce of the future, and (4) a fraction will go on to create new globally-competitive technology industries that will help to diversify the economies of the Region.
The Camps are consistent with CSF’s primary goals of: (a) helping to increase the numbers of Caribbean students pursuing advanced degrees in science and engineering, (b) helping to diversify the economies of the Region, and (c) helping to stimulate more technology-based entrepreneurship within the Region, and thereby raise the standard of living of the people. These camps, along with the CSF Computer Coding Workshops, the Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE) and the CSF-CAS (Caribbean Academy of Sciences) Regional STEM Teacher Training Workshops are the main educational reform programs of the CSF.
International robotics competitions are popular forums where students compete against their peers for substantial prizes and exposure, and gain real-world engineering experience, frequently under the guidance and mentorship of professional engineers. It is envisioned that within a few years of these camps being run in Barbados, Barbadian teams would be participating in such international competitions.
The VEX Robotics Curriculum is employed for Levels I and II of the camp. Our modified VEX robotics curriculum comprises a mix of classroom teaching, and hands-on building through the use of VEX Robotics Kits. VEX is recognized as a leading classroom robotics platform (see http://www.vexrobotics.com/). Through this curriculum, the students are introduced to STEM and robotics. They learn about the basic components of robots, and see examples of how science and math are applied to engineering. In the Level III camp, the students will build their own robots. A tour to a company which uses robots is often planned, so that the campers can observe real robots in action. The students will have fun using this knowledge to automate devices (chain reaction programming) and build an autonomous robot. At the end of the month-long camp, the students demonstrate the operation of their robots to a public audience, and certificates are awarded.
The 2018 Junior Robotics Camps
Please read carefully the 2018 Camp information below as some of our rules and requirements have changed to allow a wider distribution of children of different ages to enter the camps. This means that some of the younger campers may have to skip a year between camps.
The application period for the 2018 camps will open on April 2, 2018. The application deadline is 11:59 pm, 18 May 2018. The three camps will run in parallel from 9 July to 9 August, 2018, concluding with a public showcase by the students.
2018 Level I Camp
Applicants for Level I (introductory)camp must be at least 10 years of age on July 1 and less than 13 years of age on July 1. The lower age limit of 10 years does not apply to those few students who applied last year and did not meet the then age 9 requirement. These students may reapply and their applications will be considered.
The Level I camp focuses on “teleoperated” robots (robots operated remotely), but we also begin to introduce concepts of autonomous robots. More specifically, the curriculum includes: learning about simple machines and motion (such as pulleys and pendulums), learning about mechanisms such as motors and gear ratios, learning how sensors work, and an introduction to the basics of programming. The students then have fun applying this knowledge to automate devices (chain reaction programming) before attempting to build an autonomous robot.
Student application forms for the Level I camp can be downloaded from the link below when the application period opens:
2018 Level II Camp
The Level II camp is open to students who are at least 12 years of age on July 1 and less than 15 years of age on July 1. Students who have been unfocused or disruptive in the Level I camp (based on the recommendation of the Level I camp coaches) should not apply for admission to the Level II camp.
The Level II camp will focus on completely autonomous robots. The goal would be to have these campers design and build robots which can run a fairly sophisticated obstacle course autonomously (without human intervention).
Student application forms for the Level II camp can be downloaded from the link below when the application period opens:
2018 Level III Camp
The Level III camp will be run for the first time in 2018, as a pilot. The Level III camp will be open to students who are at least 15 years of age on July 1 and less than 18 years of age on July 1. The Level III Campers will be expected to design and build their own robots from a box of parts and materials. The work involves the use of power tools, and Arduinos and/or Raspberry Pi’s are to be used in the robot.
The Level III application form may be downloaded using the link below when the application period opens:
Required Survey Form for Previous Level I Campers
In addition to the Level II or III application form, 2015, 2016 and 2017 previous Level I campers who wish to participate in the 2018 Levels II or III camp must first fill out and submit this
A printable (pdf) version of the online survey/questionnaire is available below
but it should be used only if the applicant has difficulty accessing the online version. If you have already returned the survey, we thank you very much.
Camp Selection Criteria
The BJRC Admissions Committee will be responsible for selecting the students. The Committee is comprised of a subset of the Camp Planning Committee and some of the coaches. Because of budget and space limitations the Committee will limit the number of participants in Levels I and II to about 20 students each, and in Level III to about 10 students. Only complete applications that arrive before the deadline will be considered. Also, the age limit for each camp and the citizenship requirement will be strictly enforced.
For all Camp levels, applications will be selected taking the following factors into consideration:
- The strength of the recommendation from the principal or teacher
- The age of the child (older students will be given preference over younger students who have to option to re-apply in later years)
- The admissions committee’s assessment of the child’s interest and passion for STEM based on the submitted materials
- Then if the qualified applicant pool still exceeds our capacity, a lottery system will be put in place to select the remaining successful candidates
The CSF, through donations from its sponsors, bears almost all of the financial costs associated with Camp. However, parents/guardians are expected to contribute a participation fee of BD$ 400 per child for the entire month. For parents who are unable to pay the fee in full before the camp starts, we can accommodate for 4 weekly payments upon request. Lunch and snacks at the breaks are served to all children participating in the camp. All campers receive a Robotics T-Shirt during the Camp.
The CSF is seeking qualified facilitators/coaches who have the experience and can commit the time to help us run the three Levels of the camp. The 2018 camps will run from July 9 to August 9. These positions carry a modest stipend, but a signed contract with the CSF must be executed as all facilitators are expected to be available for the duration of the camps.
The Facilitator Application Form can be downloaded in WORD or pdf formats from the links below:
The CSF is seeking US$ 40,000 sponsorship to cover the major expenses of the three 2018 Junior Robotics Camps: Purchase of the VEX Robotics Kits (inclusive of software); stipends for 12 facilitators; tools, components and materials for the demos and for the building of the competition platform; snacks for the campers; Arduinos and Raspberry Pi’s; additional miscellaneous materials and supplies. Please contact Prof. Cardinal Warde at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 1-617-699-1281 if you (or your organization) are willing to assist.
Past Institutional Camp Sponsors have included:
• The City of Bridgetown Credit Union
• The Barbados Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development
• The Central Bank of Barbados
• MASA (Medical Air Services Association)
A promotional fundraising video made by Mr. Hallam Hope can be viewed at the link below.
2017 Barbados Junior Robotics Camps in the News
Camp Scale up Across the Region
Now that the Level I and Level II camps have been piloted in Barbados, the CSF is eager to work with others to develop similar camps in other Caribbean countries.