Summer 2013: Robots, Final Day

Photo Jul 25, 3 40 46 PMPhoto Jul 25, 3 37 09 PMThe final day of our G3 ‘Summer of the Robots’ arrived! And what did that mean?…the big competition!  Once again, the day was organized by both Sue Coco and Jeff Goodin from Cheshire High School. And for this final day, Jeff and Sue were joined by five teens from the Cheshire High Mecha Rams:  Nick Tracey, Bella Guo, Evan Langelis, CJ Caron, and Joe Goncalves.  We even had some special visitors for the day, including the Cheshire Public Library Director and Deputy Director, as well as a reporter from the Cheshire Herald!

The competition in our final day was designed to build on the knowledge our G3 scientists had already gained in Day 2 of the program. That means there was even more hands-on work with the LEGO robot kits. All of our G3 scientists showed up wearing the team buttons they had created in Day 2, and they were quickly separated into their teams and assigned to a teen mentor. The teen mentor helped walk them through the challenge for the day, and also helped them program and test their robots throughout the hour. The task for the day was the following:

  • Photo Jul 25, 3 49 44 PMEach team had to program their robot to complete a small square course. The robot needed to move around the course in a clockwise path, avoiding all LEGO brick obstacles, until it crossed the finish line (the same point it had originated from).
  • Teams were each given a laptop computer and table workspace to use in programming their robot. The teams could use whichever sensors they wanted to on the robots – light, sound, touch…or a combination of the three.
  • After a test program was downloaded onto the robot, a team could then visit the course to test their programming and see if they needed to make any calibrations. For example, sometimes a robot that is meant to be moving forward is accidentally programmed to travel backwards (oops!).
  • When Jeff called “TIME,” each team would gather around the course and do a final run on the course for all to see.

Early on, the teams discovered that using the light/infrared sensor was a bit problematic. The sensor – which in theory was supposed to track and follow a line of white electrical tape in part of the course – had difficulty tracking the tape-marked path.  Perhaps the white of the tape was not bright enough, or the multi-colored carpet created additional confusion for the sensor. Whatever the reason, we did see a lot of robots spinning in circles trying to find a course to track. But like any good scientists know, experiments are meant to teach us something about science and help us to recalibrate and correct our way of approaching a specific problem going forward. Thus, our scientists and teen mentors did a terrific job adapting to the challenges of the day and had some very nicely done final runs through the course at day’s end.

When it was time for the final runs, Jeff gathered all of the teams together around the one course. He explained that while competition is healthy and everyone wants to see their robot do the best, at the formal robot competitions like the Mecha Rams attend, everyone supports the efforts of other teams and truly hopes that they also succeed. So he encouraged our teams to support each other and really cheer each other on.  With the teams, mentors, and parents and family gathered around, we witnessed some great final runs from each of our teams 🙂

Before leaving, each G3 scientist was given a certificate for completing the series as well as a small robot figure to take home with them. I’ll be sure to pass on the names and contact emails for our scientists to Jeff so that he can keep in touch and let all of our scientists know when there might be some fun robot workshop days and events for them to visit throughout the year. All in all, our ‘Summer of the Robots’ was a big success and hopefully we’ll get to do something again with the Mecha Rams in the near future. Be sure to check out the video highlights from the finale of our summer series below.

See you in the Fall!


Categories: Robotics, stem, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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