The Ozobots will be making a comeback at the Becker County Museum later this month.
No, that's not the latest techno music group on the scene; rather, Ozobots are tiny robots that can be programmed to perform everything from the most basic tasks to much more complicated feats of technology.
The little 'bots were a huge hit at the museum's first-ever Robotics Camp, held this past August. In fact, all slots for both morning and afternoon sessions at the camp were filled, so the museum's staff decided to host some additional mini-camps for kids aged 7-14 during the week of Dec. 26-28, when most local students will be home from school.
"The mini-camp will run from Dec. 26-28, with sessions for kids between ages 7-10 from 9 to 11 a.m., and kids between ages 11-14 from 1 to 3 p.m.," says Becky Mitchell, the museum's executive director. "It's open to kids who came to our summer camp, or have other prior robotics experience, and to first-timers as well. We will be able to accommodate both.
"Then on Saturday, Dec. 29, we'll have another 'Mini-Me Robotics Camp' for kids ages 4-6 and their parents, from 10 a.m. to noon," she added.
All three age groups will be working with the Ozobots, which have the capacity for increasingly complex programming as kids become more adept at coding.
"The cost will be $45 per kid for the three day mini-camp, or $15 per kid for the one day camp," she added. "But space will be limited to just 20 kids for each session (due to the number of Ozobots the museum has available), so sign up early!"
Mitchell says the mini-camps are just the latest in the museum's planned robotics offerings; more will be scheduled in the future.
"The response has been tremendous," Mitchell said, adding that they have begun offering robotics workshops for students from area schools, local scouting troops and more.
"The workshops typically last about an hour and a half, and then we usually give them a 45-minute tour of the museum," Mitchell said, adding, "Our museum is growing and changing, expanding our robotics and other offerings to meet the needs of our community - but not forgetting its original purpose, which is to offer opportunities to learn from our past, our local history."
Recently, the museum received a $4,800 grant from the Detroit Lakes Area Community Foundation to expand its robotics offerings even further, Mitchell said.
"We'll be using the money to purchase tablets for use with the Ozobots," she added. "We currently have enough to purchase one tablet per robot, which will allow us to grow the program in upcoming sessions, and to use our little robots to their full potential."
But right now, the staff is focusing on the December mini-camps - where they will be getting a little assistance from members of the QWERTY Robotics Team, which is based at Detroit Lakes High School.
"Some of the QWERTY team members will be coming to assist at our mini-camps, which is not only helpful to us, but provides an outreach opportunity for them," Mitchell said, noting that some of the older students will be getting the chance to be a mentor to younger kids for the first time.
To sign up for one of the mini-robotics camps, or learn more about any of the upcoming activities at the museum in 2019, please call 218-847-2938 or visit the website at www.beckercountyhistory.org. Updates about future activities are also available on the museum's Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Becker-County-Museum-126015390997.