If Jones Moore grows up and becomes an engineer, the IHMC may be able to take some credit.
Jones, 12, has hosted the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Knowledge at nearly every Saturday scientific session. This month, he spent his first week at Summer Robotics Camp as a rising eighth grader. He was one of nearly 40 students who spent a week learning from the best at the 2022 IHMC summer camp.
Jones says the best part of the robotics camp was building robots and coding training.
Robotics Camp is one of the IHMC’s characteristic efforts to promote the student community, which also includes science Saturdays, a science enrichment curriculum, and field trips throughout the school year. Science Saturday is a series of 90-minute sessions on key topics, including the design of computer games, robotics, amusement park trains, butterflies, chains and more. They are all aimed at educating and inspiring the next generation of scientific minds.
The robotics camp is one of the best times of the year at the IHMC. That’s when the doors open wide – and the next generation of scientists go through them. Instructor Heath Parr, whose daily job is as a high school teacher in Escambia County, taught about 40 students in grades 8 to 10 through the basics of robotics, coding and problem solving.
Dr. Ursula Schwutke is the Director of Education for the IHMC campuses in Pensacola and Ocala. She organizes Robotics Camp and the Science Saturday series, which aim to stimulate students’ love of science so that the best and brightest minds can be inspired to look for what’s next.
“Fun science gives children the ability to discover their interest and abilities in science and to develop self-confidence,” says Schwutke. “Opportunity is vital for children. Without the opportunity to find their interest, they cannot know that this is something they must pursue. ”
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While assembling and programming the robots is, of course, the fun part, the focus of the camp is the opportunity to meet and mingle with researchers from the IHMC team. This year, Senior Research Fellow Dr. Jeff Phillips, Researcher Dr. Gwen Bryan, and Research Fellows Duncan Calvert, Nicole Esposito, and Josh Farina took time off their schedules to visit tourists, have lunch, and share information about their current research and how they started their own scientific careers.
They made a great impression on Jones.
“I think because they had professionals on hand, it helped that you could talk to them and learn new things,” said the Pensacola high school student.
The robotics camp is sponsored by Cox, the office of the sheriff of Escambia, Barnes Insurance and Florida Blue. Their support made the camp possible and allowed us to involve students in the Pensacola State College and Pace Center for Girls talent search education program to help create an IHMC pipeline to share what we love in science with students in every corner of the community.
Community service is an important component of the IHMC’s work. Schwutke surveyed the parents of Science Saturday to try to assess the impact of the sessions. All families report that the sessions increase their children’s scientific curiosity, motivation in science classes, enjoyment of science, and self-esteem in general. But families whose children qualify for a free lunch and a discounted lunch have a greater impact on motivation and self-esteem in science classes than other participating families.
“We see that science Saturdays are impactful for all families, but we see that we continue to make the most difference among families with more limited resources – families that may not be able to offer their children the regular experience of practical science, if our events were not free, “said Schwutke.
Science is about pushing the boundaries of what is known to explore the depths of what is possible. The IHMC is proud to have been a small part of this for children like Jones Moore and all the students who were part of our efforts to promote education. We can’t wait to resume science Saturdays in the fall – and we hope that many more young science enthusiasts will join us.
Visit https://www.ihmc.us/life/science_saturdays/ for the latest updates.
Shannon Nickinson is Director of Communications at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Knowledge (IHMC).