Frank Koscica and his brother, Sam Koscica, both of Oxford, recently attended Robotics Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center’s Official Visitor Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The five-day program is geared towards students, grades 7-9, who have an interest in engineering. The mission of Space Camp Robotics is to show trainees how engineers develop solutions for real-world problems using technology.
Sam is a seventh-grader at Oxford Middle School, while Frank is an entering freshman at Oxford High School.
Throughout their time at Space Camp Robotics, the boys learned what it’s like to engineer and design robotics on land, in the air and underwater.
They were challenged to build their own robots, helicopters, and motorized fish made with PVC piping. They then had to program each of their “inventions” to go through obstacle courses and complete tasks for points.
At Space Camp, students used the LEGO MINDSTORMS system to design, build and program LEGO robots.
“While we were there we built a main robot and programmed it. There was lots of stuff in an obstacle course that we had to have our robot drive through, which we had to program it to do,” Frank said.
Both boys have been actively involved in other robotics programs over the past several years, such as Camp Invention, a program which allows students grades 1-6 to explore connections between science, technology, engineering and innovation, and Oxford Middle School’s Destination Imagination team. Frank and Sam have also been involved with Team TOWR at Oxford Middle School.
Frank was humbled by his experience at Space Camp Robotics when he realized he still has a lot to learn about robotics.
“I just want to learn how to program lots of things because I had no clue how to program things before. (During Team TOWR) I learned how to build lots of stuff, but I didn’t know how to program. It’s more difficult than I thought,” said Frank.
Despite the challenges, Frank and his team received the “Prime Contract” award at the end of the program, signifying that his team’s robots accrued the most points throughout the competition.
For Sam, the program’s benefits stretched far beyond robotics.
“I learned a lot about teamwork and communications skills. If you don’t have those, you won’t have a good thriving team. It was a lot of fun,” said Sam.
The brothers plan to take what they learned when they go back to school in the fall.
Sam plans to continue his involvement with Oxford Middle School’s Team TOWR, while Frank will be working with Oxford High’s TORC 2137.