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Middle School - Keep engaged (interested in Robotics) what other hands-on activities?

Ramya78Ramya78 13 replies3 threads Junior Member
Hi,

My DS (7th grader) is interested in Robotics and participates in FLL. He loves to build legos, robots and solve puzzles for hours when he is bored. He's academically gifted and straight A kid, but he's having a hard time to find his true interest and passion. We have bought couple of robots from Amazon to keep him busy, he builds them out quickly and after few days he is bored again. He repeatedly asks us how to keep him engaged and he is constantly on his phone since he says he doesn't have anything to do. As a parent we are worried and not sure what other activities will keep him occupied.
Any parent with kids of similar nature and have tried different activities or extracurricular classes which helped your kids to figure out their passion, can you please share your inputs. We are not trying to pad his college applications on extracurricular activities or any such. Just genuinely asking what class/activities will help him keep engaged.

Thank you
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Replies to: Middle School - Keep engaged (interested in Robotics) what other hands-on activities?

  • Ramya78Ramya78 13 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Hi,

    My DS (7th grader) is interested in Robotics and participates in FLL. He loves to build legos, robots and solve puzzles for hours when he is bored. He's academically gifted and straight A kid, but he's having a hard time to find his true interest and passion. We have bought couple of robots from Amazon to keep him busy, he builds them out quickly and after few days he is bored again. He repeatedly asks us how to keep him engaged and he is constantly on his phone since he says he doesn't have anything to do. As a parent we are worried and not sure what other activities will keep him occupied.
    Any parent with kids of similar nature and have tried different activities or extracurricular classes which helped your kids to figure out their passion, can you please share your inputs. We are not trying to pad his college applications on extracurricular activities or any such. Just genuinely asking what class/activities will help him keep engaged.

    Thank you
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  • thumper1thumper1 76426 replies3379 threads Senior Member
    How about other things...music, sports, scouts? Does your MS have a robotics club? Some do?
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  • yucca10yucca10 1344 replies40 threads Senior Member
    How about math? He can participate in math competitions. What about science fairs? Does he read books? If not, a few well-chosen science fiction or fantasy books can occupy kids of his kind for a while.
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  • HippobirdyHippobirdy 606 replies1 threads Member
    What about a traditional day camp, opportunities for swimming, canoeing, fishing.
    Some states have talented and gifted summer enrichment on environment, health, cyber topics.
    Also some colleges have arts and crafts, social media, game design, woodworking, music, theater camps.
    Some camps for grades k-5 kids would welcome him as jr counselor in training. Developing new interests, being responsible to / for others.
    Could get certified as babysitter, work at robotics camps for younger kids.
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  • 1Lotus1Lotus 69 replies7 threads Junior Member
    Our community and school district sends out a booklet of activities 3 times a year, I think that has a lot of activities. If your area does this, it is a good way to look through the catalog together and ask him if anything interests him. Some activities are with peers and some are with family-like archery/paddleboarding. It has academic/musical/sport activities listed. My rather academic d surprised me in middle school when she mentioned she wanted to try running! In elementary she participated in rec soccer one year and rec basketball for 2, but never really interested in sports, so it was really a surprise. You never know what might spark an interest. My D just competed in an FTC (First Tech Challenge) tournament on Saturday. She will not be participating again because she realized it was not her thing, but I was impressed with the event! The students created a robot to compete over several months and then at the competition they work with other teams in different rounds to advance-her team did well-but did not advance to state. I like that it attracts the students who like computers/technology and then has an aspect of the event that requires networking with other teams and working together. D does enjoy the academic teams at school. She is in Science Bowl and Math League, but they also have Knowledge Bowl, Quiz Bowl, Speech/Debate/one act plays. Has he considered learning an instrument? Just throwing some ideas out there :)
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  • mountainsoulmountainsoul 126 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I also have an academically gifted, straight A kiddo with a passion for robotics and programming. In middle school he gravitated towards academic teams (knowledge bowl, math counts, etc.), coding club, and did very well in science fair which led to a tech internship where he his conducting original research as a 9th grader. He also really enjoyed stagecraft (class where students build sets for the theater department).

    My S is also self-taught in a couple of programming languages so during the summer I enrolled him in camps that would challenge him and expand his knowledge. For example, he knew Python so I put him in a camp where he learned C++. Several companies run day camps throughout the summer and costs vary. If you live near a university, then that would be a great place to start your search.

    As a former athlete and self-proclaimed gym rat, I believe a healthy body is just as important as a healthy mind. So, in addition to his academic pursuits, S has tried track, hockey. soccer, flag football, baseball, swimming, tennis, and golf. A few stuck and, most importantly, we know what he doesn't like. Have your S try a variety of activities and his passions will emerge. Best of luck to you.
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  • tdy123tdy123 1033 replies18 threads Senior Member
  • Ramya78Ramya78 13 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @Hippobirdy - Thank you. We are looking for activities during the school season. Will certainly look for camp counselors which he might be interested.

    @1Lotus - Thank you, he will be certainly interested in doing coaching kids in robotics. That will be steer him with other opportunities.

    @mountainsoul - The problem he is not into coding, we have urged the importance to learn coding/programming. But he is very much into building that to actual work on learning programming. Any pointers here please?
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  • mountainsoulmountainsoul 126 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I really don't have any pointers for you other than enrolling your S in a programming camp to see if that sparks an interest. Some kids just aren't in to programming and that's okay. Robotics teams needs kids who like to design and build the robot too.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6250 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Some kids who like the challenge of problem solving like chess or sports like rock climbing. I would as also see if you have a maker space near you.

    I think it's important to support a passion, as you are, and to help kids explore a bit as well.
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  • mommdcmommdc 11755 replies31 threads Senior Member
    Maybe something to balance out the STEM?

    Tennis, golf, track?

    Debate, academic team?

    Music, art?

    Could he tutor other kids, start a Lego club or something?
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  • LuanneLuanne 56 replies2 threads Junior Member
    My 6th grader loves robotics and did FTC for the first time this year. His team did well and went to states. It was a lot of time for many months and when it finished last month, he was pretty lost on what to do with all his time. He is a programmer, so has started expanding what he can do. He also has joined the bowling team, for something less academic. He has a good time with a few friends, so that is really nice.

    As for other activities that might use some skills from robotics - how about working on the school play and building sets, learning the lighting, etc? Or just getting a workbench with basic hand tools, clamps, drill, etc. He could build something for his room maybe while learning how to fabricate parts. FTC and FRC both have kids fabricating robot parts from wood (prototypes) and metal.

    Learning the CAD side of design maybe? Does he have a 3D printer? Those are fun.

    Does he know electricity? Wiring sets, soldering kits, etc might be fun for him. They make soldering project kits which are fun.

    The other thing mine does is compete in cubing. Like Rubic's cubes, etc. He's done a few competitions and they are entertaining!

    I know these aren't necessarily school or group activities, but maybe something to do at home.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8670 replies77 threads Senior Member
    No need to push programming on a middle schooler. If he likes to build, just support that.

    Agreed that theater tech has many opportunities for kids
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  • Ramya78Ramya78 13 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @mountainsoul - Thank you. I'm thinking of enrolling to low-cost programming summer camps to see if he starts liking it.

    @gardenstategal - We don't have Maker space near our area, but definitely interesting to see what they do in MS. Also our school district offers Theater Tech from high schoo, definitely worth signing up for.Thank you.

    @mommdc - Thank you, he's not into debate team. But I asked him to explore Academic team which only 8th graders are allowed in his school.

    @Luanne - That's so many interesting activities. I'm going to look into buying a 3d printer. Yes, yes soldering kits would be real fun too. Thank you

    @momofsenior1 - yes we are on same side, no pushing. Theater tech is something I have asked him to explore in HS, as it's not open for middle school. Thank you.
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  • mommdcmommdc 11755 replies31 threads Senior Member
    Ultimately they need to find what they enjoy doing. Two of mine like to play videogames, two like reading and art, two like music.
    One liked being on stage, the other did sound and lights.
    A few liked tennis as a sport.
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  • Ramya78Ramya78 13 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @thumper1 - Thanks for the reply. he tried different sports but interested to play at school-level. But he needs some activity to keep him engaged.

    @yucca10 - he is not reading books apart from what's needed in school work, but I think we need to get him interested on science fiction so he may choose to explore more. Thank you.
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  • scikitscikit 24 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Enroll in a community VEX team. More time consuming than FLL, but a lot more complex and he'd love it.
    If you're in California, a *really* good community middle school VEX team is Paradigm 315.
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  • yucca10yucca10 1344 replies40 threads Senior Member
    Does he read books?
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  • sciencenerdsciencenerd 1587 replies236 threads Senior Member
    Now is actually a good time to try any type of different activities to see what his true passions are.

    Does he like anything in the arts? Painting? Drawing? Music?

    Also, are there things he doesn't like or considers a weakness? He can maybe work on them now to at least have the skills to deal with them when they crop up. For example, public speaking. We will all have to speak publicly at one point or another and most of us dread it. If he at least has the skills to speak publicly he can use them when needed.
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