TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – One child built a bird, another built a crane.

These were just two of the creations that 18 children, ages 5-8, constructed with their robotic kits Friday morning at the Twin Falls County West Building. An older group of children attended the robotics class that afternoon – and for all previous four days. The event was part of a week-long robotics camp hosted by the University of Idaho Extension Office.

A larger robotics event that will include more area students will be held April 28 at Harrison Elementary School, with additional camps and clubs held this summer. STEM – which stands for Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – education events are growing in popularity, said extension educator Suzann Dolecheck.

With robotics, children learn and apply a variety of science, math and engineering skills. They also learn how to work and interact with their peers.

Children on Friday morning gathered in what used to be the cafeteria of the former St. Luke’s hospital, and before starting their robotic creations first heard a story called “The Gruffalo.” The story was read by class aids from Canyon Ridge and Twin Falls high schools and AmeriCorps Vista. After the story was read, the students went to their tables to build items and animals mentioned in the book.

One young student named Carter said he liked the alligator because it had a mouth that opened. McKayla, who sat next to him with Lego pieces and wires spread on the table, said her favorite was a bird because in robotics it could move its wings.

Not only do the students learn technology, but they have fun using their imaginations and sharing their creations with their friends.

The aids that helped the students this past week said they also enjoyed the experience. For a couple of them, it was there first time attending a robotics class.

“It’s fun to learn with the kids,” said Kylie Hansen, a sophomore at Twin Falls High School.

Alyssa Keys, a student at Canyon Ridge High School, echoed similar sentiments: “I think it’s incredible to not only see them learn, but to learn with them.”

“It’s good to be with the kids,” said Canyon Ridge senior Ellen Birch. “Their ideas are inspiring.”

Dolecheck said the county commissioners have helped the extension office tremendously by allowing it to use space in the County West Building for the robotic event. She hopes, however, that because of the growing popularity of the events that a permanent location will one day be approved. The former clinic building on Shoshone Street would be a great place for the STEM classes, she said.

“We are in dire need of a permanent STEM education center in Twin Falls. It’d be great to have a central location,” Dolecheck said, noting that events often have been held in parents’ garages. “This is a great program to get kids into. We just have to find a way to support it.”

Upcoming Robotic Events

WeDo Camps, ages 5-8
9-11:30 a.m. June 6-10 (Monday-Friday)
1-3:30 p.m. June 6-10 (Monday-Friday)
1-3:30 p.m. July 25-29 (Monday-Friday)
* 20 participants per camp

EV3 Camps, ages 9-12
9-11:30 a.m. June 6-10 (Monday-Friday)
1-3:30 p.m. June 6-10 (Monday-Friday)
* 12 participants per camp

Robotics Clubs, ages 9-12
2:30-4:30 p.m. July 6-Aug. 18 (Monday and Wednesday)
9-11 a.m. July 5-Aug. 18 (Tuesday and Thursday)
2:30-4:30 p.m. July 5-Aug. 18 (Tuesday and Thursday)
* 10 participants per camp

For more information about the events, contact the University of Idaho Extension Office at 734-9590.