Hundreds of elementary and middle school students converged January 30 for the 2010 Nebraska Robotics Expo at the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland. The event was coordinated by 4-H Youth Development’s GEAR-Tech-21 program with support from the National Science Foundation. It showcased CEENbots built in classes throughout Nebraska and beyond, by schools using curriculum developed by Professor Bing Chen and the UNL Computer Electronics and Engineering (CEEN) program based at The Peter Kiewit Institute in Omaha.
Following Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman's opening ceremony remarks, teams controlled their CEENbots through an obstacle course and a ball-gathering exercise. Sierra McLaughlin, an Omaha third grader with Hartman Elementary School’s "Hawks" team, was proud that "I can make ‘CEENdi’ (their CEENbot) go in all directions." Her father, Kevin, said Sierra and her cousin, Ryan, have enjoyed the robotics learning, which "made them more excited about school." The younger McLaughlins’ team leader, Hartman fourth grade teacher CJ Barry, said this first year with the CEENbots helped her students "develop ingenuity" (hence the "di" in their robot's name), from understanding technology to dealing with teamwork issues.
Also there, UNL mechanical engineering students Sarah Royse, Tyler Holm and Tim Prost mentored middle schoolers in First Lego League (FLL) robotics activities. On laptops and at practice tables amid the museum’s huge aircrafts, teams of teens tweaked the programming of their robots before competing. Teams also gave presentations to judges, who deconstructed the teams’ preparation for lessons learned.