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11 Best Robotics Programs for High School Students

8 minute read

a pink robot car with spikey wheels

Robotics programs for high school students offer a dynamic learning experience that combines STEM with hands-on creativity. By participating in robotics programs, high schoolers gain practical skills in programming, electronics, and mechanical design. Additionally, robotics programs can encourage innovation and inspire a passion for technology. These programs also tend to have an emphasis on hands-on projects such as building or programming your own robot, which can be a refreshing difference from programs that are more lecture heavy.

Whether you’ve already been tinkering with robots or are interested in getting started, there’s a great robotics program out there for you!

List of Robotics Programs for Teens

Summer Program in Automation, Robotics, and Coding (SPARC)

Hosting institution: NYU Tandon

Location: New York City

Deadline: April 20 (closed)

Cost: $2,825

SPARC introduces students to the basics of robotics, mechatronics and programming. This is a 2 week, full-day, in-person summer program for rising 9th through 12th grade high school students. You do not need experience in robotics to participate in SPARC; during the program, students will learn about applications for microcontrollers, interface sensors and actuators, basic electrical components, circuits, circuit configurations, and much more.

This is a great program to start learning robotics at a high level. Unfortunately, financial aid and scholarships are unavailable for the program.

Education Unlimited Robotics

Hosting institution: Stanford University

Location: Palo Alto, California

Deadline: N/A (but sessions still open to enroll for summer 2023)

Cost: $3,025 for Extended Day Camp, $3,560 for Overnight Camp

In this hands-on, one-week program, students will use the VEX5 robotics platform to construct a fully functional robot to overcome obstacles. Throughout this robotics program, students will explore electrical circuits, power systems, and communication setups. 

If competition is also your thing, the program concludes with a finale presentation focused on designing a robotics sports competition! This program is a great opportunity to build a robot and put it through a series of challenges all in one week. Students have the option to participate in either the overnight program (staying in dorms) or the extended day (from 9 am - 9 pm).

Engineering and Robotics at MIT

Hosting institution: MIT and National Geographic

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Cost: $6,495 + airfare

In this 10 day program hosted in partnership with National Geographic Explorers, students participate in seminars covering diverse subjects, such as remote exploration of space and sea and engineering microscopic robots. Students then take those experiences to develop a capstone project proposal that uses advanced science to tackle a significant problem in their local community.

Some of this high school robotics program’s highlights include being able to meet with actual researchers in robotics and also using 3D printers to bring your own designs to life. Although this program is on the more expensive side, it does offer you the opportunity to visit and use state of the art research labs that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

American Robotics Academy Summer Camp

Hosting institution: American Robotics Academy

Location: Texas and North Carolina, Live Virtual classes also offered

Deadline: N/A (but sessions still open to enroll for summer 2023)

Cost: Starting at $195; varies based on location and camp type

If LEGO is something you’re passionate about, students in this program are provided a LEGO Technic Kit, and put their robots through different competitions. The Technic Kit includes various specialized elements like axles, gears, beams, wheels, motors, microcomputers, pneumatics, and more. While this camp is geared more towards younger kids in elementary and middle school grades, this can be an exciting opportunity if you’re interested in LEGO.

Launch

Hosting institution: Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Location: Worcester, Massachusetts

Deadline: Closed for Summer 2023

Cost: $795 (including lunch)

This one week commuter program for students entering Grades 9-11 offers the opportunity to delve into technology and work on hands-on projects with WPI faculty. In their robotics engineering courses, students can explore concepts of mechanical and electrical engineering, as well as computer science. Through several projects, you’ll learn about the use of motors, mechanisms, sensors, and programming in robotics (specifically the C programming language). 

This program is a bit limited to students living in the New England area since it’s only a commuter program, but if you live in the area this could be an interesting program!

Machine Learning (ML)

Hosting institution: NYU Tandon

Location: New York City

Deadline: Closed for Summer 2023

Cost: $2,600 + optional housing or meal plan packages

If you’re interested in NYC, this is a great robotics program hosted by Tandon. This two-week summer program introduces students to machine learning, computer science, and artificial intelligence. Lessons cover video and image recognition technologies; interactive voice controls for homes; autonomous vehicles; real-time monitoring and traffic control; cutting-edge diagnostic medical technologies, and other technologies that are a part of our daily lives.

Students learn how logic and mathematics are applied to ML, and there’s also a strong emphasis on how these techniques can be applied to solving real world challenges. This makes the ML program stand out as an impressive summer robotics program for high schoolers.

Northeastern Young Scholars Program

Hosting institution: Northeastern University

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Deadline: Closed for Summer 2023; Opens January 2024

Cost: Free and for permanent Massachusetts residents only

This program is limited and only open to permanent Massachusetts residents who are entering 12th grade. However, if you are a Massachusetts resident, this program offers hands-on research experience with specific Northeastern professors.

The program runs from late June to early August, and past students have conducted research in compression algorithms, battery chemistries, and evaluating new cancer therapies. What also sets this program apart is its focus on career exploration for students, with special seminars that introduce students to different careers. Further, each Young Scholar participates in college and career counseling during the program.

UT Austin Academy for Robotics

Hosting institution: UT Austin

Location: Austin, Texas

Deadline: Closed for Summer 2023 

Cost: $2,100

This one week credit-bearing program will introduce students to C++ and Arduino programming, and all skill levels are welcome to the program. There will also be various hands-on projects that students can participate in, including: competing in a robot race, conducting robotics projects in simulation and assembling a Bot’ n Roll robot.

The program also has a heavy emphasis on experiencing the UT Austin campus. Although we agree that it definitely is a great opportunity if you’re interested in the college, note that programs like these will never boost your chances of admission into the school. Be sure to keep that in mind as you think about what summer programs you want to attend.

Embry Riddle Robotics & Autonomous Systems Camp

Hosting institution: Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

Location: Daytona Beach, Florida

Deadline: Opens in January for 2024

Cost: $975

In this one week program, students have the opportunity to design, program, and test their own autonomous robots with the help of Embry Riddle faculty. For high school students who are based in the Southeastern US, this could be a unique robotics program option to explore for the summer.

Saint Louis Robotics Summer Academy

Hosting institution: Saint Louis University

Location: Saint Louis, Missouri

Deadline: Applications for Summer 2024 open in Feb 2024

Cost: $650

For this one week, day camp-only program, students work in teams to build their own custom robots. This camp also offers the opportunity to meet with current Saint Louis University engineering students and faculty, and explore the university’s various labs and facilities. As a small bonus, students also get to take home the robot that they build!

This program has explicitly mentioned that they only have space for 25 students, which allows for a potentially close knit environment amongst students, but also might require students to apply as early as possible for the best chance of admission.

iD Tech Coding and AI Academy Camp

Hosting institution: MIT or Stanford

Location: Various

Cost: Starting at $4,599

This camp dives into the Sphero RVR robot, a programmable robot that students work with throughout the program to develop an autonomous vehicle. Students create computer algorithms to program the self-driving vehicle. One strength of this iD Tech program is the opportunity to learn from instructors with strong industry backgrounds at companies like Microsoft, Google, and Disney.

Choosing Your Robotics Study Program 

There are many different robotic programs for high school students, and choosing the one that’s best for you may depend on geographical location, the cost of the program, and what you want to get out of the experience. As you explore these robotics programs, consider what your goals and preferences are. Do you want to experience a college campus environment while doing the program? Do you want to participate in robot competitions? No matter which you choose, you’re sure to have an amazing time!

If you want to pursue independent research in robotics topics, Polygence is a great option. Our research program mentors have worked with student alumni on robotics-related projects, including: researching flying robot dynamics; assessing the role of robots in space exploration; and constructing robot arm simulations.

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