The Fort Payne High School Gigawatts FIRST Robotics Team held a robotics camp at the DeKalb County Public Library earlier this week, connecting with students in the community.

Team Instructor Jamie McClung said the initiative was part of their outreach efforts in the community.

“We’ve added in a new component as our high school students get older and we work more,” he said. “This year, we’ve done camps in just about every museum in the state of Alabama.”

The team has participated in camps as far away as Birmingham. McClung said part of their efforts in expanding includes the local communities.

“We wanted to get in touch with our libraries and start making a partnership by offering some robotics camps,” he said. “This one is a short two-day camp right here at the end of the summer, teaching participants how to program a robot, get some programming skills and a chance to learn while doing something fun.”

The camp featured over 10 kids from various age groups interested in learning about programming and technology in a hands-on atmosphere from season members of the Gigawatts Robotics Team, including Laurel Shugart, Barrett Bible, Clark McClung and Cain Nappier.

The group also hosted a camp Monday night at the Rainsville Public Library.

“It’s just part of our mission as a team,” said McClung. “We want to give back to the community and encourage the younger generation.”

During these events, the high school students put their skills to use combining STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) with community outreach to foster an interest in participants.

“We are giving them a taste in case they want to join a team in middle school or take computer science classes at the school,” McClung said. “At Fort Payne Schools we are now offering computer science classes from third grade to high school.”

Third grade students start with learning Berkeley Coding and robot programming, among other components. As they advance to high school, they learn to program drones and the ins and outs of code in text.

“This year we’re adding Python programming and Text Python,” said McClung. “By next year, we will add in Java programming.”

FPHS students mentoring in the camps are members of the Gigawatts First Robotics team who earlier this year were awarded the prestigious Chairman’s Award for the Southeastern Region FIRST Robotics Competition.

DeKalb County Public Library Director Cynthia Hancock said she hopes to continue hosting learning opportunities for its patrons in the upcoming months.

For daily updates, follow DeKalb County Public Library on Facebook @dekalbcountylibrary or visit them at 504 Grand Ave NW Fort Payne, AL 35967.

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