Robotics and West Virginia—A Successful Fit

The annual West Virginia FIRST LEGO tournament sponsored in part by the Center for Educational Technologies grew again in 2012, involving more West Virginia youth than ever as 54 teams took part in the December competition at Fairmont State University. Dr. Meri Cummings of the Center for Educational Technologies served as emcee for the tournament after directing it for years.

Cummings was just as busy promoting LEGO robotics thanks to $10,000 funding from the West Virginia NASA Space Grant Consortium and her work through the NASA-sponsored Classroom of the Future program. In March at the Digital Media and Learning Conference in San Francisco she presented on how to build a badges certification program based on NASA robotics content.

To celebrate National Robotics Week in April, Cummings hosted a tweetup and facilitated a week of afternoon presentations via the NASATalk website.

Workshops
Cummings hosted two Girls as NASA Robotics Engineers workshops at the Center for Educational Technologies during the spring. These workshops seek to inspire girls to consider careers in the STEM areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In August Cummings led the Robotics Workshop for Educators and Youth Group Leaders and followed that the next month with a workshop for Girl Scouts featuring the Mars rover, Curiosity.

Going to Camp
Another annual robotics event has been a weeklong summer camp at the Center for Educational Technologies. This year's was a full house, and the camp tied in robotics and GIS. The camp was cosponsored by GEAR-Tech 21, and two former participants returned as counselors: Deryn Martin, now an engineering major at Robert Morris University, and Caitlin Reasbeck, a senior at Wheeling Park High School. Both are also former members of a robotics team sponsored by the Center for Educational Technologies.

Contest Prep and Judging
In addition, Cummings mentored five Girl Scouts robotics team as they prepared for the state tournament.

Cummings also served as a judge at the 2012 FIRST LEGO League World Festival, which brought competitors from more than 45 countries to St. Louis.

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