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13 Robotics Programs for High School Students

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a robot made out of small plastics

13 Robotics Programs for High School Students

Exploring robotics programs for high school students opens the door to the fascinating world of technology and engineering. These programs offer young learners an exciting opportunity to dive into the mechanics, electronics, and software that power today’s robots.

Students can develop critical thinking skills, enhance their creativity, and prepare for future careers in a technology-driven landscape by participating.

Whether through building, programming, or competing, each experience is designed to spark curiosity and foster a deep understanding of robotics. Read on to learn more!

13 Robotics Programs for High School Students

To meet the growing interest in robotics and the need for technologically proficient future generations, several programs have been developed targeting high school students.

These initiatives aim to nurture young minds in robotics and STEM, providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in these areas.

Close up of school students designing and testing STEM robot vehicle project model in robotics class for the competition.

1. Botball® Educational Robotics Program

  • Location: Various locations, including Colorado, Greater DC, Idaho, Greater Palm Springs, New England, New Mexico, New York/New Jersey, Northern California, Oklahoma, San Diego, and Texas.
  • Cost: New Team Registration – $2,750; Returning Team Registration – Starts at $1,550.
  • Program Dates: Colorado: April 20, 2024; Greater DC: April 27, 2024; Idaho: April 13, 2024; Greater Palm Springs: May 4, 2024; New England: April 27, 2024; New Mexico: May 11, 2024; New York / New Jersey: May 18, 2024; Northern California: May 4, 2024; Oklahoma: April 6, 2024; San Diego: April 20, 2024; Texas: April 13, 2024
  • Eligibility: The program is open to middle and high-school-aged students.

The Botball® Educational Robotics Program immerses students in designing, building, and programming autonomous robots, focusing on teamwork and problem-solving. The program begins with workshops for educators, followed by a seven-week building phase for students, culminating in a competitive tournament. It’s a comprehensive learning experience that aligns with educational standards, emphasizing the practical application of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Robots in the Botball® program operate independently, programmed by students using languages such as C, C++, or Java. The provided kit, which levels the playing field among participants, includes everything needed for building robots, demonstrating the program’s dedication to accessible education.

2. University of Wisconsin Madison Engineering Summer Program

  • Location: University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: Virtual ESP: June 24 – 27, 2024 (with an optional campus visit on June 28th); ESP: July 13 – August 2, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 11th
  • Eligibility: For VESP, you must be interested in math, science, and engineering, be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and be a current 8th grader or freshman in high school. For ESP, you must have a strong interest in math, science, and engineering, be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, be a current sophomore or junior in high school, have completed at least one year of algebra and geometry, and have a minimum unweighted GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

The University of Wisconsin Madison offers two programs: the Virtual Engineering Summer Program (VESP) for younger students and the on-campus Engineering Summer Program (ESP) for juniors and seniors.

VESP provides rising 9th and 10th graders a week-long introduction to engineering disciplines through online sessions, with an optional campus visit. This free program allows students to explore engineering concepts and the engineering design process.

ESP offers a more in-depth experience for rising 11th and 12th graders through a three-week residential program. This program mimics the experience of a first-year engineering student at UW-Madison with workshops, site visits, and faculty mentoring. It’s competitive, with selections made based on application materials.

These initiatives aim to expand participation in engineering by exposing students to various disciplines within the field

3. Summer Program in Automation, Robotics, and Coding (SPARC)

  • Location: Zoom
  • Cost: $3000
  • Program Dates: Session One: June 17 – June 28; Session Two: July 8 – July 19; Session Three: July 29 – August 9
  • Application Deadline: May 1 or While Spaces Available
  • Eligibility: Must be Age 14+ the day the program begins, minimum 15 years old for housing.

At the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, SPARC introduces students to robotics, mechatronics, and coding fundamentals over two weeks. Breaking away from traditional educational methods, this program emphasizes hands-on experience, pushing students to engage with robotics mechanics actively.

SPARC is accessible to students aged 14 and above, with housing options for those 15 and older. With a tuition fee of $3,000 covering courses, materials, and university services, students also receive a kit for home projects. The curriculum goes beyond robotics, covering soft skills like diversity and teamwork, fostering academic growth and personal development.

4. Launch

  • Location: 20 Trowbridge Road
  • Cost: $795
  • Program Dates: June 24 to 28, 2024
  • Application Deadline: April 30, 2024
  • Eligibility: Rising 9, 10, and 11th graders

Launch caters to rising 9th to 11th graders, offering a week-long, non-residential program that spans a broad spectrum of STEM, including robotics. WPI faculty lead this program, engaging students with hands-on activities, demonstrations, and discussions. Students gain practical lab experience using advanced technology and software.

The curriculum includes courses ranging from Aerospace Engineering to Robotics Engineering, allowing students to explore their STEM interests in a supportive setting. The launch aims to ignite a passion for STEM and lay a foundation for students’ future academic and career paths in these areas.

a man shaking hands with a robotic hand

5. MIT Lincoln Laboratory Radar Introduction for Student Engineers (LLRISE)

  • Location: MIT campus in Cambridge, MA and Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, MA
  • Cost: Unspecified (students only pay for their transportation to and from MIT)
  • Program Dates: July 14 – July 27, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 7, 2024 10:00 PM EST
  • Eligibility: Be a U.S. citizen (foreign citizens who are permanent residents are not eligible), be passionate about science, math, and engineering, be completing your junior year in high school

LLRISE is a two-week, no-cost workshop for high school juniors, concentrating on constructing small radar systems. The workshop blends classroom instruction with project-based learning, encouraging students to build Doppler and range radars.

Participants collaborate in teams, developing teamwork and problem-solving skills. They interact with expert scientists and engineers, learning about radar technology’s practical applications. Open to U.S. citizens with a keen interest in science, math, and engineering, the program encourages applications from students of underrepresented groups.

Applications for LLRISE are due by March 7, 2024, including transcripts, test scores, essays, and teacher recommendations. This thorough selection process ensures that all participants are highly motivated and prepared for the program’s challenges.

6. Saint Louis University Robotics Summer Academy

  • Location: Saint Louis University
  • Cost: $650
  • Program Dates: June 12 – 16, 2023
  • Application Deadline: April 30
  • Eligibility: High school students entering grades nine through 12 in the fall of 2022 are eligible. Space is limited to 25 students.

Saint Louis University’s Robotics Summer Academy offers an exceptional opportunity for high school students interested in robotics. This day camp enables participants to work in teams to design, build, and program their robots while learning about mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering. It’s an immersive experience that extends beyond the classroom, providing interactions with current engineering students and faculty and access to the university’s advanced labs and facilities.

The academy is specifically designed for students entering grades 9 through 12 in the fall, with a limited capacity to ensure a focused and enriching learning environment. The tuition of $650 covers the cost of materials, including the robot each student builds, lunch, and all camp activities. Scholarships are available to ensure that passionate students can attend regardless of financial constraints.

Applicants must submit a completed online application form and a current official high school transcript. Preference is given to rising high school seniors, reflecting the program’s goal of preparing students for future academic and career paths in STEM fields.

7. Northeastern Young Scholar’s Program (YSP)

  • Location: Northeastern University, Massachusetts
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: Monday, June 24 – Thursday, August 1, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 15 (recommendation letters accepted until March 22)
  • Eligibility:  Students must be permanent Massachusetts residents, living and attending school in MA throughout the year, within commuting distance of Northeastern University. Only students entering 12th grade in the fall following the program are eligible to apply. This includes students from any school (public, private, homeschooled, etc). Due to government grant funding, students must be US Citizens or Permanent Residents. Absences are not permitted unless in a documented emergency.

The Northeastern Young Scholar’s Program (YSP) provides a unique opportunity for future scientists and engineers to engage in research across engineering, science, and health sciences. YSP participants work in Northeastern University’s laboratories, tackling various topics. The program offers diverse projects for various interests, from exploring active particles in flow to designing model compression algorithms and evaluating new cancer therapies.

Beyond lab work, YSP offers seminars on different engineering disciplines, college and career counseling, and field trips to corporate and government sites. These activities provide a broader understanding of STEM careers and the practical applications of robotics and other fields.

8. Tufts Engineering Design Lab

  • Location: Tufts University
  • Cost: Commuter Program Fee: $4,000, Materials Fee: $200; Residential Program Fee: $5,500, Materials Fee: $200; Non-Refundable Program Deposit: $550
  • Program Dates: July 7-19 and July 21-August 2
  • Application Deadline: June 1
  • Eligibility: Students entering high school grades 10-12 or a Spring 2022 high school graduate. Residential students must be at least 15 at the program’s start and no older than 17 before the program’s end date. Both domestic and international students are welcome. Non-native English speakers must submit evidence of English Language proficiency.

Tufts Engineering Design Lab (EDL) offers a hands-on approach to engineering and robotics. Participants will engage in projects using tools like Raspberry Pi and the GoPiGo3 robotic platform and learn about 3D printing and laser cutting. Python programming is also covered, ensuring students develop broad skills.

The focus of EDL is on applying engineering theory to real-world problems. Students work collaboratively on projects that challenge them to think critically and creatively while managing their projects and communicating their ideas.

9. UT Austin Academy for Robotics

  • Location: UT Austin Campus
  • Cost: $2,100
  • Program Dates: June 16 – June 21 & June 23 – June 28
  • Eligibility: Students entering 9th-12th grade (Fall 2024)

The UT Austin Academy for Robotics immerses students in robotics, allowing them to assemble, program, and compete with advanced robots. The program encourages collaboration with instructors and industry experts, giving a deep dive into robotics technologies.

This academy welcomes all skill levels, offering a chance to explore Linux usage, C++ programming, and Arduino programming. The experience concludes with a robot race, showcasing the practical skills acquired.

10. MIT Zero Robotics Program

  • Location: International Space Station (ISS)
  • Cost: Unspecified
  • Program Dates: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: Middle and high school students.

The MIT Zero Robotics Program offers a unique opportunity to engage with robotics and space technology. Students develop software for SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites) on the International Space Station (ISS), challenging their coding, problem-solving, and teamwork abilities.

Seeing their algorithms run in space provides an inspiring educational experience, fostering skills in coding and robotics while promoting collaboration.

High school students building and programming electric toys and robots at robotics classroom

11. Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University Robotics & Autonomous Systems Camp

  • Location: Daytona Beach, FL
  • Cost: $1,000. (There is an early discount of $50 if registration is completed by April 4, 2024)
  • Program Dates: July 21-26, 2024
  • Eligibility: Students ages 15-18

Embry–Riddle Robotics & Autonomous Systems Camp, located in Daytona Beach, FL, offers a weeklong exploration into autonomous robot design, construction, programming, and testing.

This camp brings students face-to-face with complex mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering concepts, guided by the university’s faculty and collegiate competition teams. It’s a hands-on experience that prepares students for future studies in engineering and robotics, providing a clear glimpse into potential careers in these fields.

The camp’s tuition covers supervised housing, on-campus meals, classroom instruction, books, and materials, ensuring students can focus fully on the learning experience. An early registration discount encourages prompt sign-ups, making this opportunity accessible to more students.

12. American Robotics Academy Summer Camp

  • Location: Austin, Houston & Surrounding Areas (Houston/Katy, Conroe/The Woodlands/Spring), North Texas (Dallas & Surrounding Areas), North Carolina
  • Cost: Unspecified
  • Program Dates: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: PreK to the 12th grade

The American Robotics Academy inspires young minds about robotics, offering programs for students from PreK to the 12th grade. The camp environment nurtures teamwork, problem-solving, and creativity across various skill levels. Besides technical skills, the academy also focuses on diversity, self-esteem, and social skills.

Using LEGO Technic and other resources, students gain insights into engineering principles, including design flexibility and the importance of iterative testing. The academy ensures broad access to robotics education through online and after-school programs.

13. MIT Introduction to Technology, Engineering, and Science (MITES)

  • Location: MIT
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: Late June through early August
  • Eligibility: U.S. citizens or permanent residents and high school juniors.

The MITES program, hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a six-week on-campus immersion into the rigorous academic life at MIT. This program is not just about the challenging coursework; it’s a journey of personal and academic discovery.

Participants engage in various math, science, and humanities courses, pushing beyond the traditional high school curriculum and into areas like Machine Learning and Genomics, exploring STEM’s real-world applications. But it’s not all work; the program includes lab tours, social events, and college admissions counseling, offering a holistic life experience at MIT.

Eligibility for MITES targets U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are high school juniors, focusing on students from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM fields or from low socioeconomic backgrounds. The application process, which opens during the fall semester of the junior year, is competitive, seeking students with a demonstrated passion for STEM, strong academic records, and a commitment to overcoming challenges.

Why Robotics Education Matters

Robotics education is crucial for preparing the next generation for their future, offering more than just the basics of constructing and programming machines. Robotics programs for high school students play a key role in developing critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork skills.

These programs prepare students for STEM careers and teach them how to approach challenges creatively.

Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills

Robotics teaches students to tackle real-world problems with critical thinking and solution development. They learn to look at challenges from different angles, create hypotheses, and refine their approaches based on results.

This process promotes resilience and adaptability, showing students that setbacks are steps toward learning and innovation.

Student doing some research projects

Collaboration and Teamwork

Robotics highlights the importance of teamwork in solving complex tasks. Students discover the value of communication, task division based on individual strengths, and working towards a common goal. These teamwork skills are crucial for success in any career path.

Preparation for STEM Careers

Robotics programs introduce students to engineering principles, computer science, and advanced mathematics. They also provide a glimpse into emerging technologies such as AI and automation, sparking interest and laying a solid groundwork for future academic and career pursuits.

Creative Approach to Complex Challenges

Robotics encourages students to combine technical skills with creative thinking. It teaches that innovative solutions often result from unconventional thinking, a valuable skill for addressing the evolving needs of technology and society.

Lifelong Learning and Curiosity

Engaging in robotics programs fosters a love for learning and curiosity about how things work. This drive for exploration and innovation is crucial for personal growth and continuous improvement in any field.

Global Perspective and Competitiveness

Robotics programs connect students to a global network of young innovators, offering a chance to learn from different cultures and viewpoints. This global perspective readies students for international collaboration and competition, enhancing their adaptability and competitiveness in the global job market.

Robotics education enriches students beyond technical knowledge, shaping them into effective problem solvers, collaborative team members, and innovative thinkers. Robotics programs for high school students are essential for equipping them with the skills needed for success in future careers and endeavors.

The Impact of Robotics on Future Careers

The significance of robotics in future careers is clear and growing. With technology advancing, the need for professionals skilled in robotics and associated fields is set to increase.

Robotics programs for high school students are crucial in preparing young individuals for a future deeply intertwined with robotics across many sectors, including healthcare, agriculture, and environmental protection.

Broadening Career Paths

Robotics opens up a variety of career opportunities. Through robotics programs, high school students get a head start in exploring roles in engineering, artificial intelligence, healthcare robotics, and technologies for sustainable agriculture.

These programs provide the essential skills for designing, developing, and applying robotic solutions to real-world problems.

Skill Development

Robotics programs do more than teach technical skills; they develop essential soft skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork, and adaptability. These abilities are vital for working with complex robotics systems and fostering innovation in a constantly evolving technological field.

Advancing Technology

Robotics significantly contributes to progress across different industries. It enhances productivity and safety in manufacturing and aids in environmental conservation by monitoring ecosystems. Students involved in robotics programs contribute to technological advancements that benefit society.

A female student working on her robotics project.

Ready for the Robotics Future

The widespread use of robotics highlights the importance of a technically skilled, adaptable, and innovative workforce.

Robotics programs for high school students offer crucial training in robotics principles, practical programming experience, and insights into the ethical aspects of autonomous systems.

Such preparation is vital for those aiming to enter a job market where robotics expertise is increasingly in demand.

Global Perspective

Robotics education goes beyond national boundaries, giving students a global outlook on the field.

By participating in robotics programs, students learn about international trends and best practices, and the role of robotics in solving global challenges, promoting a sense of global responsibility and the importance of collaborative efforts to advance technology.

Conclusion

Participating in one of these 13 robotics programs can be a transformative experience for high school students curious about robotics and technology.

It’s an opportunity to learn from experts, connect with like-minded peers, and take the first steps toward a future where they can significantly impact.

Whether designing robots for space exploration or improving automation in industries, the journey into robotics starts with education and exploration.

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