Payette STEM Camp students enjoy a visit from Henry, a First Robotics high school robot

A First Robotics instructor explains the capabilities of his team’s robot, named Henry, to students at Payette STEM camp on Friday.

PAYETTE — Payette STEM Camp students enjoyed an entertaining and educational assembly last Friday, featuring a First Robotics high school team from Meridian.  First Robotics is an international high school level robotics competition when students build a 125-pound robot during a period of six weeks.  

The team, called V.E.R.N. (Victorian Engineered Robotic Nation) demonstrated the capabilities of their robot, named Henry, at detecting and picking up yellow rubber balls and then launching the balls at certain targets,  in this case the basketball hoop, in a similar fashion to “Hungry, hungry hippos.”  

Students learned about the many different talents needed for a successful team; Mechanics who build, and trouble shoot the physical parts of the robot, programmers writing Java code programs, and someone who keeps track of the rules. The robot must not weigh more than 125 pounds, it must not cost over $5,000, and any one part on the robot may not cost more than $500. 

Winners at the local and then state level then travel to the worldwide competition at Houston, Texas.  Last year, students who participated in First Robotics were awarded $80 million in college scholarships.

Payette STEM Camp is a two-week camp for students in grades 1-5.  This year’s camp is funded by a grant from the Idaho STEM Action Center and the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Center After school grant. 

Paula McElroy, STEM Camp founder and Director of Payette’s 21st CCLC After school program, stated, “This is the fifth year of STEM Camp, and our program is a success with the kids every year! Our goals are to offer the kids hands-on science activities as well as to expose them to STEM Careers so that they will be interested in choosing a career in a STEM field.”

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