By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

J.J. Dryden clicks “play” and grins as his LEGO robot starts a jerky walk across the table, looking like some sort of prehistoric insect.

It’s not moving quite how he wants, though, so he and Bryan Ames, who leads this weekly robotics group at the Baker County Public Library, fiddle with the program settings to slow the robot’s walking cadence.

The robotics group started in October and meets every Friday from noon to 2 p.m. in the library’s back room.

Participants use LEGO EV3 kits to build the robots.

“It’s a fairly tiny computer that is really powerful and houses in this LEGO block,” Ames said.

The parts and pieces look like regular LEGO bricks, with the addition of cords that enable the computer to control the robot’s movements.

The kids use a computer program that communicates motions to the robot via Bluetooth technology.

“It’s a full-fledged programming language, but accessible because it’s ‘drag and drop,’ ” Ames said.

On the screen, a line of commands is located across the bottom. To program the robot, the kids simply choose a block — options include start, action, motor, logic — and build a line of commands.

At Friday’s session, Ames helped the four attendees program their robots to walk forward for five steps, then walk backward for five.

They also brought in math, programming the robot to count its steps.

“You can’t get away from math,” Ames said, “but in this case, we’ll have the computer do it for us.”

See more in the Feb. 12, 2018, issue of the Baker City Herald.