Washington County Museum
“There is a lot of good thinking going on…It’s not just robotics, but a vehicle for thinking.”
(Jo Rossman, Hillsboro Tribune, 06/28/13)
Beth Dehn is the Education Coordinator and Curator of Education and Folk Life at the Washington County Museum. In an effort to expand the museum’s educational outreach within STEM disciplines, Beth and a retired 5th grade teacher decided to offer the WaterBotics curriculum as a summer camp program for middle and high school girls. While Beth holds degrees in English and Folklore and has several years of teaching experience, she had never taught any of the WaterBotics content before. However, she commented that, “The videos that accompany the curriculum are great and the curriculum itself is very well laid out. There are enough resources provided that I could do it. And when we got stuck, the girls would help us figure it out.”
The week-long WaterBotics camp (locally called “Splash Camp”) began at 9 am and ended at 2pm each day. Separate camps were held for high school and middle school girls. Each day a guest speaker visited the camp to give the campers exposure to STEM careers, contemporary challenges within various engineering disciplines, and practical applications of robotics within various industry sectors.
Beth commented that two strengths of the program were that the missions were challenging and they built upon one another. “The girls felt they had really achieved something after completing the first mission and this provided interest and motivation to take on the next mission.” Beth and her team added training in leadership skills to the camp experience. Their long-term objective was for the high school girls to return and help run the camps for the middle school girls. Additional problem-solving activities were included at the beginning of the curriculum.
The Hillsboro Tribune, which ran an article on the museum’s “Splash Camp,” summed up several of the curriculum’s strengths as follows. They quoted Jo Rossman, former elementary school teacher and member of the museum’s education committee, as saying, “There is a lot of good thinking going on…It’s not just robotics, but a vehicle for thinking. The best mentor inspires others to think and not just think for them” (Hillsboro Tribune, 06/28/2013). Nicole Hill, one of the campers, was quoted as saying, “My parents chose for me. I didn’t think I’d like it, and I was going outside my range (of experience). But on the first day it was so much fun. They gave us instruments to build robots, and we’re programming and engineering the design process to rebuild and fix problems – that’s the hardest part” (Hillsboro Tribune, 06/28/2013). Finally, Alisha Menon, a high school student with experience in robotics commented, “This camp is engaging and I’m so glad I came. Working with water robots is a huge difference from land robots. We’ve got more problems to deal with” (Hillsboro Tribune, 06/28/2013).
Additional photos of Project Splash available on OregonLive Photo Essay