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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Robotics
Posted: February 25, 2017 at 3:24 pm
Parsons High School began its robotics program in 2003 and now Parsons Middle School has a new Robotics Club to offer younger students a similar opportunity.
Middle school industrial arts teacher Kenneth Rhuems has stepped up to the challenge of helping the students enter into the realm of building robots for competition.
Im learning, because this is new for me, he said. I enjoy it quite a bit and they are every serious. They are pretty focused on what they are doing.
Discussions had taken place the last few years on the possibility of beginning some type of robotics program at the middle school level, so as students enter high school, they have determined their level of interest and have been given some basic understanding of robotics should they want to participate in high school.
When Rhuems began teaching the program this year, he expressed his willingness to PHS robotics teacher Bruce Rea to work with the younger students, but wasnt sure if it would be feasible to obtain the needed equipment.
Come to find out, there were some kits that the school actually had. I had no clue. I found out last semester we could probably do that and then I found we had couple of kits. One of the students got some of his things done ahead of time, so he started building one and got the enthusiasm going, Rhuems said. And then we found we had some more kits at another building.
Then I wrote a grant and got two kits the Parsons Education Foundation bought for us, that were actually going to use in the contest. Weve got three that are different than what we are doing here today. They are the next level. Those will be our contest robots, he said.
Second semester, beginning in January during Friday Fun Time, students had the chance to join the Robotics Club if interested. About 10 students signed up.
Pairs of students were working at separate stations building their first level robots.
I think its really cool because hes my friend and we get to workas a team together, sixth grade student Brayden Myers said.
I think its cool because theres not a lot of things we can do in our grade andthis is one of the things we can do, Marion Ryan said. Like you cant do sports for the school or anything in our grade, but you can do robotics.
And in sixth grade you cant do any wood workingin here and today they did like race cars, I think, Brayden said. But we get to do this.
It will probably be another couple of weeks before they get to start work on their robots for the competition. With spring break and Easter recess the students are going to be down to the wire.
I may have to have them come back to school for a few nights to work on them, Rhuems said. They have the same screws, bolts, nuts, so as they become familiar with them at this level it will be easier, and theyll know the motors and other components and what they do, so it will go faster.
The students act as though they wouldnt mind putting in the additional time one bit.
Its fun. Its fun building them, Andy Winslow-Kephart said. My favorite part is the team work because you are helping and working together.
You learn all about teamwork, Ryan added.
The evening of April 5 parents will be invited to come watch a preview of the robots in action.
Well have like a little contest within our own class, Rhuems said.
April 24 the students will be headed to their first competition at Emporia State University, what they all said they are looking forward to the most.
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Posted: at 3:24 pm
The Robotics War on Cancer
Some people design robots that can assemble circuit boards or vacuum your floor. Gregory Fischer, PhD (above), professor of mechanical engineering and robotics engineering and director of WPI's Automation and Interventional Medicine (AIM) Laboratory …
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Posted: at 3:24 pm
Stars and Stripes
Soldier-turned-robotics-CEO has a special understanding of his product's need
Stars and Stripes
"These are small and narrow places, a very dangerous environment," the businessman said. Those missions prepared Abuhazira, 36, for his work as the chief executive of a Gaithersburg, Maryland, company called Roboteam. It sells high-tech robots capable …
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Posted: at 3:24 pm
SOUTHINGTON Southington High Schools CyberKnights robotics team has completed its robots for this years steampunk-themed competition. According to designers, the machine will support a strategy that emphasizes offense.
Steampunk refers to a science fiction genre in which stories have a historical setting and the weapons used are usually steam-powered.
First Robotics teams in schools worldwide will be competing with robots designed to scoop and launch balls into the fuel tank of an airship, place gears on a tray to spin the ships rotors, then climb aboard. During some parts of the competition, the robots will be unmanned operating on programmed commands. During others, the students will control them.
Three robots from each alliance of school teams will be on the field at a time and robots can try to push others around and stop them from scoring points.
Southington High Schools first scheduled matches are set for March 4 and 5 at the Waterbury District event and April 1 and 2 in the Hartford District competition.
Jake Hayes, a junior at Southington High School, is the design lead for the CyberKnights. He explained that the team had a limited time to construct its robot. With it completed, team members built several prototype robots to test and work out bugs. Before the first competition, the team will be able to adjust its machines based on these tests.
A lot of teams play really defensively and our goal is to have a machine that is impossible to defend against, he said. We will have a rotating turret that can shoot balls with 430 degrees of motion. It locks onto reflective tape on the target tower to line up its shots.
Hayes said this will be his third year on the team. The team has been active for 20 years and last year competed in the championships in St. Louis.
We did really well last year. We knew immediately what we wanted to do and how to do it, he said. It was awesome to see how great it turned out and gave us a sense that our hard work paid off. This year, the design had a lot more size constraints; the robots will be a lot smaller this year than last year. It was a pretty rigorous build but I think well do well.
Chris Bonomi, also a junior at SHS, is the lead programmer for the team.
This year the robots will need to be more accurate on turns versus the straight-line movements last year, he said. We need to calculate the velocity of our turns and it can be difficult to get them perfect but I feel we will get it done good.
Bonomi said that being a part of the CyberKnights program has been beneficial to him socially and academically.
I started programming in eighth grade and the advanced knowledge I received through this program has got me at an almost college-ready level, he said. It also helped me to open up and be more social. I used to be very shy.
Natiya Washer, who captains the CyberKnights team along with fellow senior Nick Rappi, said she is also on the electrical team.
I am really excited for this year, she said. There are so many ways to score points. Having a fifth drive-team member who is sitting on the field inside the airship will be very different.
Washer also described how much the robotics team has benefited her.
Being a part of this team has helped me tremendously with my people skills, she said. It is like running a business; you have to have good communication or nothing gets done. I also learned time management on top of the physical skills.
Sandra Brino, the team mentor, said that, due to the success of the CyberKnights, other teams have contacted them for advice. On Friday, they spoke to a team from Turkey and on Saturday they will be advising a team from India that is just starting the robotics program.
It is very flattering, said Washer. It is the first time Ive encountered another team asking for help. We fully support the expansion of the robotics program. We are very excited.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or email@example.com.
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Posted: at 3:24 pm
Jasmine Chrisp is a member of Mount Parans Robotic team 7373 that just won the Think Award. Jasmine and her team will be moving on to Semi-Regionals in March.
Jasmine is comfortable hanging with the boys. She is the only high school girl in Robotics and Engineering, but she is busting open doors for the young women who are following in her footsteps. It is one of her passions to spread the word about STEAM and FIRST among young female students. She wishes to inspire, and encourage other girls to explore the opportunities that Robotics and Engineering can open up to females. She has participated in Women in Technology events, and Girls First. She has volunteered her time to mentor fifth- grade girls in a Girls Using Engineering and Science Skills club.
Jasmine is also a girl scout. Her Gold Award proposal of creating a free curriculum to inspire and encourage girls to learn STEAM skills, investigate STEAM careers, and participate in STEAM projects and competitions was approved. The Gold Award is the highest achievement within the Girl Scouts, earned by Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts. Only 5.4 percent of eligible Girl Scouts successfully earn the Gold Award. The Mount Paran Christian Robotics team will be helping Jasmine to fulfill her project.
There is a great deal of evidence of Jasmine reaching out to help show students the importance of a STEAM program. She mentored a kindergartner during an Hour of Code event and made the lead page of Cobb in Focus magazines article on the use of 3-D printers in Cobb County schools.
Jasmine shows initiative and dependability. She is in her third year on the team and her teammates have chosen her to be the Business Manager. Jasmine has created a business plan for the team which includes an introduction to the team, an explanation of the team endeavor, budget histories and projections for the upcoming season, and an invitation to join the team in its quest. Jasmine manages a $28,000 budget and every penny is accounted for.
Jasmines list of accomplishments is impressive. She has a 4.42 GPA. She has an ACT composite of 29. She has taken Honors and AP classes, and won awards for Engineering and Math.
Jasmine passed the three hour Certified SolidWorks Associate exam. Passing this exam in 3D CAD Solid Modeling Software provides her with an industry-level certification.
Last summer, Jasmine completed a six-week intensive internship through the Technology Association of Georgia as an Input Sensor Circuit Card Lead with the Georgia Tech Research Institutes Rapid Prototype Program in the Engineering Design Process. Jasmine and 15 other high school students were trained in a mentor-based program designed to inspire and inform student career choices in STEAM as well as encourage, equip and reinforce skills in innovation, problem solving, leadership, decision-making and teamwork. By completing this program, Jasmine received GTRI certified training in a variety of areas. She was also a finalist for Tell Your Story, a video production, and was named a finalist for the Horizon Pinnacle Award.
Because of all of Jasmines accomplishments, she has been nominated for Mount Paran Christian Schools Executive Internship Program. Jasmine has been selected to work with Dr. Robert Funk at Georgia Tech Research Institute of Technologys Aerospace, Transportation and Advanced Systems Laboratory, completing a year-long internship in aerospace acoustics during her senior year.
When I asked Jasmine what had attracted her to robotics, she said that it is something that has always fascinated her. She wanted to start in middle school, but at the time that was not an option and she was told that she would have to wait. I also asked her what skills she has learned from Robotics, and she said, Robotics has improved my public speaking skills, and my ability to make technical presentations.
I asked her if she minded being the only girl, and she replied that it just felt normal. Jasmine Chrisp is anything but normal and this will not be the last time that we hear about her excellence.
Jennifer Bonn is a freelance writer and Kennesaw resident who teaches at Mount Paran Christian School. She has been published in several magazines, and has published a book titled Stay Away from the Girls Bathroom, A Teachers Guide. It is available from Deeds Publishing at http://www.deedspublishing.com.
Posted: February 24, 2017 at 6:30 pm
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Posted: at 6:30 pm
Badger Robotics team drivers Kaeden Hietala and Kennedy Truscinski look out at the model arena as they drive their team robot in a practice session with the Greenbush-Middle River Robotics team at DRB Fabrication in Greenbush on February 19. At its February 13 meeting, the Badger School Board approved designating no more than $4000 to build a 60-foot long wall to create a more conducive space in the Badger Bus Garage for the Badger Robotics team to call home.
At its February 13 meeting, the Badger School Board approved granting the district permission to designate no more than $4000 to build a 60-foot long wall to create a more conducive space in the Badger Bus Garage for the Badger Robotics team to call home.
Making this motion, board member Carol Rhen added that she thinks its prudent to post this project on the school website and to count on board members word of mouth, both coming at no cost to the district, to call out for bids on this project. Superintendent Tom Jerome agreed to post this info on the district website, including a deadline for response.
This request came after the robotics team moved from working in the Badger Industrial Arts Room and into what Jerome termed dead space, used for odds and ends, in front of three fleet vehicles located in the Badger Bus Garage. The team would like this space converted to provide a secure area and conducive atmosphere for them to work in the winter months.
To improve the insulation of this space, Jerome asked the board if the district could pursue this project, totaling, according to Allen Monsrud Construction, $3300. The district at that time hadnt yet asked for any bids outside this one. Speaking with Badger Transportation Director Tim Berger, Jerome said Berger told him he was fine with repurposing this space if the students were going to use it.
Speaking of students, board member Hauger asked if industrial arts students could build this wall. He at first made an initial motion to appropriate $3000 towards the project, have the district meet with Badger Industrial Arts teacher Mike Coltom to see if his students could do the project, and if not, to still go through with the project.
Board Chairperson Jamie Isane questioned whether having students build this wall could be more trouble than its worth, being the district has to deal with building codes. Badger Dean of Students Stacey Warne added that the district isnt offering a construction class until next fall. This initial motion made by Hauger didnt move forward.
Jerome then added that if the board wanted this wall built relatively soon, it could move forward with the project, or, if not, could wait until the fall. He did add that the build season is coming to an end soon February 21 to be exact.
Board member Jeramy Swenson, a Badger Robotics team mentor, told the board that if it approved Allen Monsrud to do the project, Monsrud could have the project done that Wednesday (February 15).
Hauger responded by saying he would like to be fair and ask for bids from others, realizing it could set the project back. Jerome then brought up the idea of calling out for bids on the school website.
Isane understood the idea of being fair to all, but didnt think they would see many differences in bids on a project of this size. Hauger then asked Swenson his opinion in terms of how imperative it was to have the project done now.
Swenson said he would like to see the project done now to provide the robotics team a home. As of February 21, the project hadnt yet began.
To see more from this meeting, read the February 22 issue of The Tribune. To find out more about the Badger Robotics and the Greenbush-Middle River Robotics teams, read an upcoming issue of The Tribune.
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Posted: at 6:30 pm
AUGUSTA While some of their classmates were enjoying the February break relaxing on the ski slopes or at the beach, members of the Hall-Dale High School robotics team were hard at work in the lower level of the Ballard Center putting the finishing touches on their robot for this seasons competition.
We probably did several thousand man hours since January, said William Fahy, a senior and one of the teams captains. The first competition will be held in Worcester, Massachusetts, early next month before the team participates in the FIRST New England District Pine Tree Regional on March 30 and April 1 in Lewiston.
Delta Prime Robotics spent most of Tuesday, known in the high school robotics world as Stop Build Day, working on the robot until midnight. The 15-member team worked on programming, electrical design and final building of the robot in their space at the Ballard Center the former MaineGeneral Medical Center building on East Chestnut Street which the team uses at no cost. The space features several large rooms, including a full body shop and a 3-D printer.
This years game, called Steamworks, requires teams to build a robot using specific guidelines provided by the sports governing body. During the first 30 seconds of each match, the robot must perform certain tasks autonomously.
Robotics team members from Hall-Dale High School test their robots maneuverability Tuesday at the Ballard Center in Augusta. The students are participating in the FIRST Robotics Competition. Kennebec Journal/Elise Klysa
Lead mentor Karen Giles said the games object is to gather gears that are loaded onto the robot by a human player. The robot then must take the gears and place them onto spots on an airship in the center of the playing field. Giles said there is also fuel giant neon yellow whiffle balls that can be loaded into the robot and shot or dumped into a steam boiler.
The robot has to have speed and precision and aiming capabilities, Giles said. You get extra ranking points for the qualifying round based on how many you get in the boiler.
In the last 30 seconds of the match, the robot must drive itself to a hanging rope, pull itself up to about 5 feet off the ground, contact a touch pad and hang in place until a buzzer sounds. The team is using a Kevlar rope that can hold hundreds of pounds instead of the rope provided by the tournament organizers.
Fahy, one of the teams lead programmers, said getting the robot, which doesnt have a name yet, to do several complicated tasks and movements at the same time is a challenge.
The robot cant learn anything just by putting a camera there and seeing stuff, because it has to process the image, Fahy said. We have to put it through a bunch of different layers of processing.
Hall-Dale High School students, all members of Delta Prime Robotics, huddle around their robotic entry Tuesday at the Ballard Center in Augusta with mentor Karen Giles, second from right, in order to finish their work before the competition deadline. Students are, from left, Garmin Dion, Eli Pahn, Michael Crochere, Ean Smith, Bryce Bradgon, Alicia Warm and, at far right, team business and coding captain William Fahy. Kennebec Journal/Elise Klysa
Senior Anna Schaab, who designed the teams logo and handles its social media outreach, said the robot uses the camera and an encoder that measures how far the wheels have moved and other real-time data.
We can see how far weve gone and where were aiming, Schaab said. These are difficult things were trying to do.
Giles son graduated last year after serving as one of the team leaders during the competition season, but she said she decided to stick around as lead mentor because she loves working with the students and seeing how their minds work. Giles, an artist and former therapeutic horse riding instructor, has made robotics her career as director of the Robotics Institute of Maine, whose mission is to inspire youth to gain a new perspective on science and technology by providing opportunities and resources for robotics programs.
They are learning so much more than robots, Giles said. They learn how to work with other people. They make friends from all over New England and they learn the soft skills employers would look for.
Giles said she works with a lot of employers who are looking not only for the technological skills these students possess, but also for people who work well with others, who can work as a team and who can jump in and help when something needs to get done.
Gracious professionalism is something stressed by New Hampshire-based FIRST, which stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. Delta Prime won two gracious professionalism awards last season, and Fahy said helping other teams and helping each other is almost as important as the competition.
Everyone is there to compete and show that their robot is going to win, but its competition with cooperation, Fahy said. At any given event, youll find teams helping each other.
Jason Pafundi can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:
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Posted: at 6:30 pm
Seen here with their first place awards at a First Lego League regional tournament in Tullahoma in December are, from left, Dakota Lawen, Caleb Voorhes-Fontenot, Abigail Voorhes-Fontenot, Sarah Parker and Angela Wood.
The Tree Climbing Fish, a First Lego League robotics team from the Flat Creek area, completed its 2016-2017 season by competing at the East Tennessee FLL Championship Tournament on Feb. 11 at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville.
The team had a great year. In December they won first place overall at the regional tournament in Tullahoma and advanced to the state level competition in Cookeville. At Cookeville, the team took first place in the Research division. This award recognized a team that uses diverse resources to formulate an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the problem they are trying to solve. Both tournaments had over 30 teams from the region. The team is sponsored by the Arnold Air Force Base STEM Program. The Flat Creek Volunteer Fire Department allows the team to use its community room for practices. The team is grateful to both organizations for their support.
Team members for the Tree Climbing Fish are Dakota Lawen, Abigail Voorhes-Fontenot, Caleb Voorhes-Fontenot, Angela Wood and Sarah Parker. The team has competed for five years. The team name references an Albert Einstein quote: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
The FIRST Lego League is a robotics program for kids ages 9-14, and claims to be the leading not-for-profit STEM engagement program for kids worldwide. There are several components to the competition. In the robotics competition, the teams must program a robot to score points on a themed playing field. There is also a project competition, in which the teams must imagine and demonstrate some sort of invention that solves a real-world problem. This year’s theme was “Animal Allies.” The team had to pick an opportunity for people to help animals or animals to help people. This year, they looked at the damage feral hogs cause to native wildlife and came up with an innovative way to remove hogs from an area. The team is also judged on the mechanical design and robot programming as well as how well they come together as a team. The team practiced two to four hours a week for seven months, not including the time spent by individual members on research or time spent on field trips.
At a state competition in Cookeville, the team took first place in the research division. From left: Angela Wood, Sarah Parker, Abigail Voorhes-Fontenot, Caleb Voorhes-Fontenot and Dakota Lawen.
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