High school students enrolled in "The Physics of
In just a week, eight high school students wired three full-size go-karts that could potentially reach up to 30 mph. Never fear parents; they have kept it at 15 mph.
"It's combining computer programming, physics and electronics," said
Instructors built steel frames for the karts, powered by two car batteries. A Bluetooth connection communicates with a Wii controller, so the students drive the karts using a wireless steering wheel.
Kidd said he's teaching a similar class this fall to undergraduate physics students but wanted to test-run it on younger minds first. College students enrolled in Kidd's class will have the option of souping up these karts, adding lights and horns or working on energy efficiency.
He's on the robotics team at
"I was on the robotics team last year, but I didn't get to do much because I was a freshman," he said. "The seniors and juniors take over and don't let you do much because you're inexperienced. So I'm just trying to learn more so I can have a better opportunity next year."
This camp is giving him an opportunity to dabble in computer programming aided by university professors.
"It would be nice if you could offer this kind of course at a high school, but I think it's lacking at the moment," said
He and Kidd wrote the initial program used to operate the karts but let the students fill in some of the gaps by doling out challenge problems and lab assignments.
"My mom always made me do math problems during the summer, so it's normal to me. But I think the average person would wonder why you'd want to do something like this," he said.
It's Kidd and Stollenwerk got a grant from Iowa EPSCoR, a research program at all three regent universities, which permitted them to offer the camp at a small cost.
"The whole goal is to teach something that doesn't take four years to be good at," he said. "It's not out of reach for the average person."
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