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NEW! Summer Zero Robotics Session 2: 6th-9th Grade: 7/24-7/28 & 7/31-8/4


Monday, July 24 - Friday, August 4, 2017


9:00 am - 3:00 pm


CCSU Main Campus, 1615 Stanley Street, New Britain, CT


Mariam Avagyan, Robert Felekey, Haoyu Wang, Biao Zhang





Course Description

Audience: Middle school students who are entering grade 6 through 9 in the Fall 2017.


 The Zero Robotics Middle School Summer Program is an innovative and inspiring program for middle school students that is truly out of this world! The two-week STEM curriculum introduces students to computer programming, robotics, and space engineering, and provides hands-on experience programming SPHERES (Synchronized, Position, Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites). The program culminates in a tournament where winning teams’ SPHERES compete aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Middle school participants will get to see the SPHERES operate in space via a live feed from the ISS while NASA astronauts provide real-time commentary. Zero Robotics Middle School Summer Program is provided through a partnership between the MIT Space Systems Lab, the Innovation Learning Center, and Aurora Flight Sciences. The Zero Robotics Middle School Summer Program is sponsored by NASA, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), and the Northrup Grumman Foundation. Zero Robotics seeks to inspire our next generation of great minds by allowing them unprecedented access to space at the middle school level. By making the benefits and resources of the International Space Station tangible to students, Zero Robotics hopes to cultivate an appreciation of science, technology, engineering and math through healthy, immersive, collaborative competition.


For tournament, participants:

•Brainstorm strategies

•Apply math and physics

•Write computer programs

•Observe results in simulation

•Compete online with Regional and National Teams

•Program Raspberry Pi powered Mobile Robot

•Test the competition strategies results on mobile robot

•Compare the simulation results with mobile robot results


Student participants compete to win a technically challenging game by programming their strategies into the SPHERES. Students’ programs control the satellites' speed, rotation, and direction of travel. The students program their satellites to complete competition objectives, for example navigating obstacles, while conserving resources such as fuel. The programs are autonomous - that is, the students are not able to directly control the satellites while they are running. Each year’s game is motivated by a problem of interest to NASA and MIT.


Students create, edit, save, and simulate projects online. They use a graphical editor to write code, then simulate their programs immediately and see the results using a simulation. The programming interface and simulation are entirely web-based, so ZR does not require any software downloads or computer configuration. The system even allows teams to compete against themselves so that they can test different strategies before finalizing their competition submissions. Each team competes online with Regional and National Teams. The winner team’s code is uploaded to the SPHERES in ISS for the Final competition judged by Astronauts!

Students participated in Zero Robotics Session 1 are introduced to high school game program. They use a text editor to programs the satellites to travel in 3D dimension space. They program Raspberry Pi powered Mobile Robot to test the competition strategies results on mobile robot and Compare the simulation results with mobile robot results


Key Dates

July 28 (Friday)

Regional Code Deadline       

Week 1

August 3 (Thursday)

ISS Code Deadline

Week 2

Date TBD (possibly August 11 or 14)

(optional, NOT covered by this program)

ISS Finals



Robotics experts, experienced middle school science teachers and undergraduate research students, who led the team to won No.2 in the Pilot Team Division and No. 4 in the Nation in 2016 MIT Zero Robotics Middle School Tournaments, will guide students who are excited to participate in a competition which challenges them with:



•Computer Programming


•Robotics & Aerospace



For more program information, contact Haoyu Wang:

For registration information contact Christa Sterling: 860-832-2277 or

Instructor Information

Mariam Avagyan

Mariam Avagyan is an innovative student, originally from Yerevan, Armenia. She moved to the U.S. in 2014 to further pursue her passions of engineering and robotics, by means of a top-tier education. She is currently a junior at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. There, she has a double major in Math and Engineering and has volunteered her time to various conferences, workshops and educational summer camps which relate to robotics. She has worked as the treasurer, outreach coordinator, as well as the president of IEEE CT branch at Trinity College. Moreover, Mariam served as a volunteer for Trinity College International Robot contest, Micromouse Robot competition, IEEE WIE Self Defense event, IEEE CT and Trinity GoPiGo robot workshops at King Philip school,? Tech Savvy conference, etc. One of her biggest dreams is to combine robotics and education in such a way that children are inspired to consider engineering as their vocation

Robert Felekey

Robert Felekey is currently a science teacher at King Philip Middle School in West Harford. He has thirteen years experience teaching science to middle school students. He has several achievements; Connecticut Science Center Ambassador Award, Yale Peabody Museum Fellow in Vector Borne Disease in 2014-15, district representative of CT STEM Conference in 2014-15, and a UCONN Joule Fellow and DaVinci Participant in 2015. In addition to Robert's education and teaching background, he has several years of experience in various CT information technology companies.

Haoyu Wang

Haoyu Wang is currently an associate professor of Robotics and Mechatronics Engineering Technology of CCSU’s School of Engineering, Science, and Technology. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Syracuse University and holds Professional Engineer’s license in Connecticut. He co-organized many robotics competitions including IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering) Micromouse and BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technolgy) at CCSU. He served as advisor for robotics teams in IEEE Micromouse and Trinity Firefighting. He served as judge for FIRST Jr. Lego League. He is working with his IEEE colleagues on a robotics education program to promote robotics education and collaboration on open source hardware and software in Connecticut. His teaching and research are in robotics, injury analysis, metrology, and manufacturing systems.

Biao Zhang

Biao Zhang is currently the Chapter Chair of IEEE Robotics and Automation Society in Connecticut, Co-Chairs of the IEEE RAS Chapters and International Activities Committee (CIAC). He developed and launched a series of teen robotics workshops, “Make a Robot with Raspberry Pi and Scratch” for 6th to 8th grade students. Volunteers, including college students, robotic hobbyists, IEEE professional members, public school students and teachers, from 14 different Connecticut organizations, were trained prior to the workshops. He served as judge for various robotics competitions, such as First Lego, VEX and International Firefighting Robot Competition. And he is also a research scientist in Mechatronics and Robotics Automation. He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from University of Notre Dame. His research interests include vision-guided robotics, 3D vision, robotic force control assembly, design of experiment optimization, automation on material handling, and human robot collaboration. And he also served as workshop chair, technical session chair, program committee member and technical committee member for several IEEE conferences.

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