Forget the beach, kids are building robots this summer

Critical thinking, math and science skills are just a few of the things that kids are learning at robot camp.

One robot in particular, named Sparky, had the campers mesmerized.

Especially, a 7-year-old named Aleda Shirley who loves robotics.

"It's just so cool," Shirley said. "It's a good way to pass time. Like, I get bored, I pick up my tablet and my robot and I'm entertained for hours."

Aleda is just one of 125 campers this summer that are getting a hands on experience building robots.

Founder of the camp Curtis Desselles, created it eight years ago to get kids thinking critically and creatively.

"We are like medium in the world of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and we are the most technologically advanced country in the world," Desselles said. "But our kids are low in math and everything. We need to do something."

During the two day camp, Desselles teaches the basics of electronics, mechanics and programming.

The best part is that it is completely free, thanks to Northwestern State University and various sponsors.

"They give us funding and they want Natchitoches to really increase their aptitudes on tests," Desselles said.

Northwestern's Dean of Business and Technology Dr. Margaret Kilcoyne said it's all about pushing kids to further their education.

"It provides an avenue to get the students engaged and interested in the S.T.E.M fields," Kilcoyne said. "If they are engaged and interested and active then we can keep them in school."

She said camps like this are important for Louisiana's future.

"We can grow that needed S.T.E.M, that needed science, technology, engineering and math area," Kilcoyne said. "Which is such a high demand for the work force here in Louisiana, as well as across the nation."

For now, Aleda just hopes she can build a robot arm to feed her cat.

"He begs for treats when I am sleeping," Shirley said. "Pull the string, get the treats, go back to sleep."

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