With Chappie in theaters and A.I. on everyone’s lips from Stephen Hawking’s to Elon Musk’s and Google talking about self-driving cars by 2016 — robots are in the news.
The Johns Hopkins 2015 Robo Challenge is on!
This year’s competition is on May 2 in the Glass Pavilion at the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus.
The annual Robo Challenge aims to spark middle- and high-school students’ interest in pursuing careers in the economically important STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math. It’s a day of fun. A day of tinkering and learning, and camaraderie, experiencing engineering outside the classroom live, in action.
Teams of 2-3 students must build small robots that can compete in up to five different events. Historically teams have come from all over Maryland and the surrounding states and can be part of a school class, club, or a group of friends. Students learn the basic electronic and programming skills necessary for enabling a robot to perform tasks like obstacle avoidance and maze navigation.
Could one of the enthusiastic kids in the room be the next Roomba inventor? Possibly!
A highlight of the competition is the So You Think Your Robot Can Dance? event where teams program their robot(s) with smooth dance moves to move in sync with music. Note, from the 2015 Robo Challenge guide: “Scoring will be based on the robot’s performance and the creativity of the dance routine. The robot’s dance will be limited to one minute.”
It’s a low key, low-cost competition, open to all, and organized annually by Hopkins graduate students. They have the chops for it. Last year, Hopkins was named one of the ten best universities in the nation for Robotics.
Training sessions for teachers and student teams are going on now, and on April 4 there will be a practice session open to anyone competing. Hopkins robotics majors will advise, and participating students will get a sense of the thrill of the big day in May.
Come cheer the kids and their B0ts!
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