Portage Schools Hosts Summer Robotics Camp in 2016

Jessica-ButzThe award-winning Portage High School Porta-Botz hosted a successful three-day middle school robotics camp this past summer. Sponsor John Kappes said the goal of the camp was to gain more interest in Porta-Botz in the middle school students.

The first day of the camp included building a type of metal robot called a “Clawbot” and navigating them around a small arena. Campers learned how to autonomously get the robots “to walk” through various coding challenges. Students also added sensors to control all types of movements on the Clawbots.

On the second day, the students learned “Driver control” of their robots. This involved using game-like controllers to give the students more control of their robot’s actions. Campers then drove their robots through obstacle courses and finished the day by competing in robotic games to score points.

The third day began with motivation to program their robot to compete in the VEX World Robotics challenge. Campers reviewed the rules and constraints, developed ideas, worked in design teams and presented their solutions. The camp ultimately ended by having a pizza party and each participant was awarded with a certificate of achievement.

Charles Davis, a Porta-Botz team member, was satisfied with how the camp ran.

“We showed up early every day to prepare the labs and robots,” Davis said. “After each day we discussed on how to make the next day better.”

Head coach John Kappes thinks that competitive robotics is ripe with life lessons.

“Problem solving, risk taking, persistence, teamwork and communication are just a few to mention,” Kappes said.

With the interest of robotics on the rise, the Portage High School Porta-Botz plans on making this camp an annual event for the community’s young robot enthusiasts.

The Porta-Botz have been successful during their regular season as well. They took part in setting a world record at the VEX World Championships. The record was set by being named the largest robotic tournament at 1,075 teams taking part. The first match at worlds had the Porta-Botz allied with a team from China, the eventual world champion.

Together the teams produced one of the highest scores of the tournaments with the potential to score more (10 missed shots, or 50 points).

The Porta-Botz were also named the U.S. Open Robotics Nationals, Open Division, and National Champions. They were the Indiana state runner-ups as well. Titles they have been awarded in the past as well is Indiana state design, multiple tournament champions, excellence award recipients, judge award winners and design award winners. The Portage community is excited to see what the world-renowned Porta-Botz will do this year.