Barbados Junior Robotics Camps

Camp Overview

The Barbados Junior Robotics Camps are annual summer enrichment programs for young Barbadian students interested in robotics. The Camps are also open to students of any nationality who can prove that they have attended a Barbados school for the past 4 consecutive years. Children of non-Barbadian parents, where at least one parent has been legally stationed in Barbados for employment purposes for 4 or more consecutive years, may be considered if there is space available in the appropriate level of the camp. 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. At the camps, students participate in team-based projects in a fun environment, supervised by several coaches under the direction of a Head Instructor. At the end of the month-long camp, the students demonstrate the operation of their robots to a public audience, and certificates of camp completion are awarded.

Students from low-income households and girls are encouraged to apply. The aim is also a balanced class of 50% girls and boys. Students apply directly to the CSF for admission, but a recommendation from their science or math teacher or principal is required. The typical student who is admitted into the Barbados 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.

The Camps are designed and run by the CSF Volunteers for Barbados (see CSF Volunteers for Barbados). 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 new Level III camp was offered as a pilot, as well as Level IIA (formerly Level II) and Level IIB (formerly Level IIA). For 2019 we will again offer four levels of the Camp, and going forward they have simply been renamed Levels I – IV, where Level IV is the same as the 2018 Level III. In the Level IV Camp, students will build their own robots.
 

All Levels of the Camp expose campers to practical experiences which build confidence, social, communication, conflict resolution, and team-working skills. Further, the camps try to emphasize and ignite interest in learning about the sustainable use of science and technology, and allow for contextual and creative problem solving (e.g., current issues relevant to Barbados). Practical camp experiences may include: personal development sessions, brainstorming/critiquing a robotic technology solution, observation and operation of robotic technology (via field trips, video and demonstrations), and design-build-test of custom mechanisms. Teamwork is an essential skill that is emphasized in all the camps, and its value is highlighted.
 
 

2019 Camp Syllabus Summary

Our modified VEX robotics curriculum will be employed for Levels I – III. It comprises a mix of classroom teaching, and hands-on building through the use of VEX Robotics Kits. 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.

Level I – Introductory/Beginner
The Level I Camp focuses on “teleoperated” robots (robots operated remotely), but also introduces concepts of “autonomous” robots. Simple mechanical, and electrical concepts are introduced using the VEX IQ kit, alongside “block-based” programming, and simple sensors. The goal is to apply this knowledge to automate devices, primarily through the use of “static pre-programmed” action sequences created using “block-based” programming tools and simple sensors. Campers create semi-autonomous robot(s) that can be controlled within a fairly sophisticated obstacle course. The Level I Camp will be open to persons who are at least 10 years old and less than 14 years old by July 1, based upon the recommendation of their teachers.

Level II – Intermediate
The Level II Camp focuses on fully “autonomous” robots created using the VEX IQ kit. Campers will learn to document their builds using standard practices (including CAD tools), and learn how to treat uncertainty in sensing. The goal is to design and/or build robots that can run a fairly sophisticated obstacle course without human intervention; primarily through the use of “feedback-driven” action sequences created using “block-based” programming tools and complex sensors. The Level II Camp, will be open to persons, typically at least 11 years old and less than 15 years old, who have completed the Level I Camp with a favorable review from their former coaches.

Level III – Advanced
The Level III Camp focuses on both “teleoperated” and fully “autonomous” robots, that require more complex programming than Level II. This involves use of AppInventor, and Arduino kit robots. Campers will learn to document their program-algorithms using standard practices, and treat with maps for navigation. The goal is to design and/or build robots that can robustly run a sophisticated obstacle course from a random starting point without human intervention; primarily through the use of “feedback-driven” action sequences created using “text-based” programming tools and complex sensors. The Level III Camp will be open to persons, typically at least 12 years old and less than 15 years old, who have completed either the Level II Camp, or in exceptional circumstances the Level I Camp, with a favourable review from their former coaches.

Level IV – Creators
The Level IV Camp focuses on fully “autonomous” robots, that are custom-built using Arduino boards. Campers will be expected to design and build robots, in a safety-conscious manner, using hand and power tools, and document both builds and algorithms using standard practices. The goal is to design and/or build robotics solutions that can address a contemporary problem; primarily through the use of “feedback-driven” action sequences created using “text-based” programming tools along with simple sensors. Due to safety concerns, the Level IV Camp will be open to persons who are at least 15 and less than 18 years old, based on the recommendation of their teachers and/or former coaches. Level IV campers are expected to follow along with the camp content outside camp hours for the duration of the camp. This includes homework and personal study/research requiring approximately 2 hours per night (weekends included).

Benefits to the Region

The CSF is committed to effecting STEM education reform in the Region, and these Robotics 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, thereby raising the standard of living of the people. The broader vision for the Robotics Camps is that:

  1. STEM-focused activities like these camps will improve awareness and create and ignite passion in our young people
  2. The growing interest in robotics will spawn the formation of after-school robotics clubs across the Caribbean
  3. Eventually, robotics will make its way into the general curriculum in all schools in the Region
  4. More Caribbean students will become skilled enough to compete with other youngsters in international robotics competitions
  5. The youngsters who participate in such camps will have a head start in joining the technology-competent workforce of the future
  6. A fraction of the graduates from our camps will go on to create new globally-competitive technology industries that will help to diversify the economies of the Region

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.

Robotics Camp Sponsors and Partners

Ideally, the budget to adequately cover the major expenses of the four Junior Robotics Camps is US$ 40,000. Major expenses include: (1) purchase of the VEX Robotics Kits (inclusive of software), (2) stipends for 12 facilitators, (3) materials, miscellaneous electronics components, tools, and equipment for building the robots and for building the competition platforms, and (4) Arduinos, Raspberry Pi’s, and specialized software and electronics for building the robots in the upper camp level. Institutional Camp Sponsors by year are listed below:

2015

  • The Barbados Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development
  • The City of Bridgetown Credit Union

2016

  • 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)

2017

  • The City of Bridgetown Credit Union
  • The Central Bank of Barbados

2018

  • The City of Bridgetown Credit Union
  • The Central Bank of Barbados
  • Emera Caribbean
  • Sagicor

 

Partners
The CSF remains exceedingly grateful to its partners:

  • UWI‐Barbados (Cave Hill Campus)
  • Caribbean Examinations Council

 

Please contact Prof. Cardinal Warde at warde.csf@gmail.com or at 1-617-699-1281 if you (or your organization) are willing to assist.
A promotional fundraising video made by Mr. Hallam Hope can be viewed at the link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdhhP-7W_E8.

 

Camp Replication Across the Region

Now that the Levels I and II Camps have been piloted in Barbados, the CSF is eager to work with others to develop similar camps in other Caribbean countries.

Caribbean Science Foundation

CARICOM Research Building
UWI Cave Hill Campus
Bridgetown, Barbados, West Indies
Telephone: 1-246-417-7493
E-mail: csfhdq@gmail.com

For further information, please contact:
Prof. Cardinal Warde
warde.csf@gmail.com