Students who enjoy building and science related activities have an opportunity to build a mini-robot over summer break and participate in other Science, Technology, Engineering and Math activities at free classes held each week at The Salvation Army.

Members of the Tehachapi High School Robotics Club, also known as the Cyber Penguins, are teaching kids of all ages how science relates to real life. The theme of the series of workshops is Keepin it Local and includes informal classes on photography, windmill science, 3D printing and computer-aided design.

Participants can attend twice a week, for the next two weeks, to make mini-robots that can be built in less than three hours, with step-by-step instructions using Legos. Other classes are also planned, twice weekly, in the coming months.

“They can exercise their brain during the summer and it allows them to collaborate with other students,” said Chloe Shadduck, president of the Robotics Club. She added, “The challenge is about water. They face real-world problems like drought and how to find solutions for that.”

After the robot is built, sensors and motors can be programmed to perform tasks such as moving a plastic water droplet to a specific spot, stacking objects, turning handles or faucets, pushing levers to move buildings and more. Any task the robot will perform matches the study of motion in water.

“It’s fun. It could help you in the future like if you wanted to do engineering," said young participant Giovanni Navarrete.

Some students haven’t had the opportunity to explore new technology or know what programming is like, but now they can take advantage of science classes and explore career paths.

“There’s something about it," high school robotics team member Mason Whitney said. "It gets you out of the house and you get to do something not a lot of kids get to do.”

He added that participating in competitions around the United States and working in a team has helped him make new friends and be involved in something he loves to do at high school and in his spare time.

This fall the robotics team will go to every first- through fifth-grade class and show a video of what a scientist is, how they picked their career and why they enjoy a STEM-related field.

“We want to encourage these types of activities here in Tehachapi, especially because there are a lot of STEM-related jobs in the area,” said Kyle Yates, Community Center coordinator for The Salvation Army.