EDISON – For Lokkit Babu Narayanan, an eighth grader at Woodrow Wilson Middle School, the only experience he has had with Amazon is seeing the name on packages at his front doorstep or passing the warehouse on Vineyard Road and Route 27 in Edison.

On April 8, Lokkit, along with 59 fellow students from Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson middle schools, got a chance to experience Amazon in celebration of National Robotics Week.

National Robotics Week, according to its website, is celebrated April 6-14. Its mission is to inspire students in STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering, math) and to share the excitement of robotics with audiences of all ages.

For the half-day STEM immersion experience, dubbed Camp Amazon, students, who were broken up into 12 teams, built an EV3 LEGO robot, interacted with Amazon leaders, and took a special behind-the-scenes tour of Amazon’s fulfillment center.

“I was surprised on how automated this place is,” Lokkit said.

Reny Mendiratta, vice principal at Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson, said they were really excited when Amazon reached out to the district and provided the opportunity for the students to engage and observe how human and robot interaction impacts a business such as Amazon.

The students who participated in Camp Amazon included sixth and seventh grade students from Thomas Jefferson and eighth grade students from Woodrow Wilson.

Rainy Shukla, assistant general manager at Amazon in Edison, said Amazon across the country has been partnering with local schools in an effort to promote technology and engineering.

“We are the first in New Jersey to host Camp Amazon,” she said. “My team is loving the experience, engaging with the kids and helping further their education.”

At the end of the program, Amazon surprised the students with a $20,000 donation – $10,000 to each middle school – to support the schools’ STEM program and support students who want to pursue a career in robotics, involving science, technology, engineering and math. The schools also were able to take the LEGO robot kits for use at the schools.

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@newspapermediagroup.com.

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