Doing the robot at WHSThe word “robot” often brings with it some distinct connotations and images, whether it’s picturing the giant robots from “Transformers” or Bender from “Futurama.” But for Woodbury High School students, robots represent a chance to invent and innovate.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
The word “robot” often brings with it some distinct connotations and images, whether it’s picturing the giant robots from “Transformers” or Bender from “Futurama.” But for Woodbury High School students, robots represent a chance to invent and innovate.
“Whenever you mention the word robot, students just think that’s cool in and of itself,” Lance Hovland, WHS technology education teacher, said. “Robotics is an environment, where like video games, you are controlling this remotely and you are able to manipulate an environment where you would otherwise not be able to succeed in — robotics is a sport for the mind.”
The WHS robotics team, now in its second year, is currently busy working on designing its new robot for this year’s FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics regional competition. The challenge, or game, was announced Jan. 8 at the University of Minnesota.
“We have to understand the game in order to design something to play that game otherwise we won’t be very successful,” Hovland said. “The regional competition is an explosion of robots.”
Last year the WHS robotics team placed near the bottom, but Hovland said the team is hoping to change that this year.
“Last year was a big stepping stone for us and this year we’ve gained a little more focus,” he said. “We learned a big lesson last year in keeping things simple since trying to do too much may look really cool, but it doesn’t function quite as well.
“We’re going more for functionality this year rather than creative designs.”
In this year’s game, Logo Motion, the robots must place inflatable inner tubes in the shapes of a circle, a square and a triangle on pegs at various heights. In addition, a mini robot must be deployed and climb up a pole. The opposing team is able to play defense.
Last year’s game was essentially a soccer game with robots.
“The actual manipulation of the game pieces is going to be a little easier this year because we’re dealing with inner tubes rather than rolling balls, which made things very difficult last year,” Hovland said.
Hovland, who acts as advisor for the Robotics team, said so far his team has been brainstorming ideas of how to design a functional robot for the game.
So far, the team has divided into four smaller planning groups.
The chassis team designs the actual device the robot is placed on; the manipulator team identifies how the robot can perform the tasks; the mini robot team designs the mini robot so that it can climb; and the mini robot deployment team identifies how the mini robot can be deployed from the large robot.
Additionally Hovland said the individual design groups are broken down even further with students focusing on the mechanical aspects, electrical and programming.
The robotics team also has a business department that is responsible for coming up with the team’s name, designing t-shirts, logos and fundraising.
So far the frontrunner for the team is “The Robosapians.”
The FIRST Robotics North Star Regional Competition March 31-April 2 at the University of Minnesota.
Since there will be more than 100 robotics at the regional competition, one may think the WHS team may be a little intimidated, especially since it will be facing off against two teams in its own community — Math and Science Academy and East Ridge High School.
However, Hovland said FIRST isn’t a competitive competition, in fact the teams work together.
“FIRST is all about gracious professionalism or ‘coopertition,’” he said.
“We want everybody to succeed because in the end nobody is going to remember who won the competition, but we will remember the relationships we created.”