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Boot camp combines learning with fun
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Instructor Stephan Unterholzner discusses the programming of the engineering project with the summer session youngsters. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT / The Bulletin

Juvraj Sidhu enjoyed his time at the 2016 STEM Summer Camp.

The incoming seventh-grade student at Mossdale Elementary School was still tinkering with his Redbot project Thursday at the Engineering Boot Camp at Manteca High.

“I’d rather do this (summer camp) than regular school,” Sidhu said with plenty of enthusiasm.

Stephan Unterholzner, who is the Chemistry /Engineering teacher at Sierra High, and MHS Math teacher/ chair Doug Obrigawitch have been working with Manteca Unified students entering sixth through eighth grades enrolled in the week-long session.

STEM – it’s an acronym for Science Technology Engineering Mathematics – allows for students to apply computational thinking.

“It doesn’t matter if you want to be an engineer or not but this sort of thinking can help you get through life,” said Unterholzner. “The world is more technological these days.”

He and Obrigawitch had students working with Redbot, which is the robotic development platform by SparkFun.

They learn about basic robotics and sensor integration, programming the mainboard (motor drive and main controller) of their Redbot to follow a course or race straight away.

“You can make it go fast or turn,” said Dakota Torres-O’Callahan of Mossdale Elementary School, She learned about the second-year Engineering Boot Camp from her mother, who received the  information from the school district via e-mail.

The Engineering Boot Camp has been the cornerstone of sort for the STEM Sumer Camp, which expanded this year to include a Game Design Camp, Flight School 3D (Obrigawitch is teaching this one at MHS for eighth- through 11th- grade students starting next week), and Summer Astro  Camp. 

For students, these sessions thus far have been plenty of fun learning.

“They’re learning but may be unaware of it since they’re having fun,” Unterholzner said.

Eli Gonzalez attended Engineering Boot Camp last year. He’ll be a seventh-grade student at Sequoia Elementary School in the fall and was able to get his Redbot to successfully maneuver through the track with a few obstacles but made with magnetic tape.

“It’s been a lot of fun coming to this summer camp,” Gonzalez said.


To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail