GARLAND — Local youths will have the opportunity to design, build and program robots during an upcoming week-long interactive camp.
Mop Top Shop, Inc. is hosting a Robotics Camp for youths throughout Sampson County. The camp for ages 5 to 13, is scheduled to begin Monday, July 11, and will continue through Friday, July 15, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. Stephens AME Zion Church, 51 E. Third St., Garland. Lunch and snacks will be provided. Registration will be accepted up until the beginning of camp.
Jackie Johnson, president and founder of Mop Top Shop, Inc., grew up in Garland. After graduating from high school, she earned degrees from North Carolina State University. Using several mascots including, Mop Top the “Hip Hop” Scientist, the goal of the program is to expose children in North Carolina and throughout the nation to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
“We want to provide hands-on, interactive learning opportunities for kids,” Johnson said. “Especially the kids that lack the accessibility, money or don’t have the money to participate in activities that we offer.”
Based out of Raleigh, Mop Top Shop, Inc. travels all over the state to offer services to children. For the past three years, the program traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in the White House Easter Egg Roll, with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
The Garland Robotics camp is one of many held in the summer and Johnson is looking forward to returning. It’s one way she gives back to her community.
“There’s all kinds of opportunities for kids during the summer (in Wake County) and even during the school year,” Johnson said. “But those opportunities aren’t always available or accessible to the kids in Sampson County.”
During the camp, the children will construct robots using Lego Mindstorm and learn how they are used for various operations in society.
“They’re going to be building robots that can talk, walk, detect motion with various sensors,” Johnson said. “I want them to see and understand that and transfer that information to everyday life.”
She hopes the students become intrigued by the camp, which may lead to advanced learning camps in the future. One of the ideas was creating a Sampson County team for FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO League, a robotics competition.
For several years, Johnson and her staff have traveled to many rural areas and provided materials required for the sessions. To cut down on costs, staff members from local schools are used as well.
Keisha Cromartie, assistant director of the camp, is looking forward to the event and watching children make their own “Mop Top Bots.” Johnson and Cromartie have worked together on several occasions. At the end of the school year, Johnson conducted a workshop where kindergartners used Playdough to learn about solids, liquids, gas and plasma, which are known in physics as states of matter.
“I’m really excited about it,” Cromartie said about the upcoming camp. “This is a great opportunity for the people of this area.”
Fees for the camp are usually more than $200, but the cost for the Garland camp is just $50 to accommodate the financial hardships of the area. Through social media, Johnson was able to receive sponsorship for several students.
“The community is behind their kids,” Johnson said.
Spots are still available for the camp. For more information about joining the camp, contact Cromartie at 910-214-0547 or Johnson at 919-264-3918. Registration forms are also available online at www.moptopshop.com/camp15. Additional details about camps are available on Facebook by typing “Mop Top Shop” in the search bar.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.