Cultivating Genius in Oakdale: 3-Day Advanced Robotics Camp was a Huge Success! Mid-summer is not the time we dream of spending all day inside a warm gym, but after programming their first red light to blink on the electronic circuits they built, the proverbial lights came on in the eyes of all the kids in the camp, and the seeds of genius were firmly planted in Oakdale, Louisiana, that morning.
Their first red light electronic circuit was designed, built, and programmed within the first 30 minutes of camp. And, the light came on.
Our Kids are Genius is a program to empowers and enables young people, who live in underserved or rural communities; providing them access to cutting-edge technology and hands-on training. It is the brainchild of Mr. Bill Shaw, a native son the Oakdale community, who envisions sharing his career insights of future technology with our youth. Besides working as an Advanced Systems Engineer and Solutions Architect with Marathon Petroleum, he is an accomplished musician, a dedicated home school father, and an IT consultant with IntrinsIT Technology. And yes, Bill is a genius. The website for Our Kids are Genius, ( www.okag.info ) , defines 'Genius' as: “Developing the character to find the answers to any problem without the fear of being wrong, without ever quitting, and with the faith you cannot fail." By the end of this first robotics camp, Oakdale was blessed with children who had discovered their own genius within.
BOLCDCL‘s Dream Center at 810 Hankins Street, here in Oakdale, La., was an ideal location for the camp. Each morning, the children arrived ready and willing to meet the challenges of learning to build and program their own robots. With less than a dozen participants for this initial camp, the team of instructors from Our Kids are Genius was able to provide hours of one-on-one training for each child. The instructors were able to instill a simple understanding of mechanical engineering skills, along with computer-based programming skills. The goal was to have the children fully competent to maintain their own robots, and totally confident to experiment with them in the future, knowing they had awakened their own genius.
One of the instructors with Our Kids are Genius was Dr. Umar Bey, a director for the non-profit, Educational Development Outreach Center, Inc. He has been an elementary and middle school math and science educator for nearly 30 years. His wife and he currently facilitate the Indira Mura Institute, a very successful, independent education system, serving the needs of his children and others. He is also the co-founder of the World Famous Traveling Black Inventors and Scientists Museums, Inc. (www.theblackInventionsMuseum.org) Bey was extremely impressed with the children and how they were able to focus for hours to complete each assignments. “Its not often we gather a diverse group of children, have them work together in teams, and have everyone achieve mutual success.” But, that is exactly what happened. He goes on, “At first, we weren’t sure if these robots were too advanced for these students. We had designed the camp for students ages 12-17, but our group ranged only from ages 11-14. Remarkably, each child had its robot functioning properly on the first run. By the end of the camp, we had full blown geniuses!”
Each new genius left the camp with a fully functional, four-wheel drive robot and a tool kit to repair and modify their creations. They not only learned to construct and improve their machines, but they also learned how to program them using traditional radio controllers, or linking them to their smart phones in order to operate them with Bluetooth technology.
It was a total community effort that insured the camp’s success. Although each child was allowed to bring their own lunch, some parents and church members donated pizzas, sandwiches, drinks, and other healthy snacks. Ms. Minnie Shaw stole the show with her homemade cupcakes for the campers and staff. Future camps are being planned right now. For more information, Contact Ms. Stephanie McKay at Bread Of Life Community Development Corp of La., or visit us at www.okag.info to get your children registered for the next camp.
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