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Robotics 101

Since October my daughter has been doing an after-school activity - Robotics.  Teams from all of the middle schools in the area take the same materials and construct a robot.  My daughter's school, the local charter school called the Pennington School, had two teams.  My daughter competed with both. 

At the competition there were three arenas, Galileo, Einstein and Newton.  Her teams competed in the Newton arena.

The idea is to pick up the plastic donuts with the robot and place them over the stake and stack them onto the white holders.  The robots need to avoid the obstacle in the middle and the other robots as it goes about its work.

Each robot begins on its own pad.

There are four robots in each competition.

The key is that each robot is manipulated by three different operators.

One of the four of the team acts as a spotter, telling the team the best places to go.

It requires that they work as a team!  To do so, a team must work together.  I noticed that all the teams had a hard time working together.  During the time frame leading up to the competition there were three snow days preventing the teams from actual time with the robots!  That can be a big deal when it comes time to understand how your robot reacts with the donuts and you react with your team.  One person operates the forward/backward, one the side-to-side and one the lift arm.  So it is crucial that you act as one.

There were many competitions scheduled for each team during the day.  At the first competition a certain home inspector (let's call him HI) who was watching noticed that the robot lacked ballast and tipped to the front.

It could not hold itself level much less the weight of a donut.  Without practice time the team did not know this.  (They're in 8th grade and aren't engineers...)

That HI fanagled a "Pit Pass."  It is very rare to obtain one, but the HI is good at that sort of thing.

One rule - a "visitor" to the pit (where work is done on the robots between competitions) cannot touch a robot or the team is eliminated from competition.  So the HI could only talk and said to the team that the robot needed ballast.  He judged the looks on their faces and rephrased it - "The robot needs more weight on the back."

With ballast added the robot was able to roll and lift.  After a couple more tweaks and changes the robot worked pretty well!

This is the robot in the next competition, just before dropping a donut onto the stake.  This changed things!

The HI Pit Crew Helper had to leave to do a couple of home inspections, it being Saturday after all! 

But the team of budding scientists and engineers from Pennington had a lot of fun during the rest of the competition. 

Were there any lessons learned?  Sure! 

Just because you think something works doesn't mean that it works.

And physics has laws that must be obeyed.  If not, weight and energy does not work together and what is supposed to roll, turn, lift and drop might not exactly do all that!

And to work as a team, you must practice as a team!

But friendships were made, and a great experience was had by each one!  They didn't end up first or last, but had a great day!  And I was very proud to see some of it happen!

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 20 commentsJay Markanich • February 27 2011 06:07AM

Comments

That sounds like a great time.  Isn't it amazing what kids are doing in school these days? 

Posted by Kimberly A Norgard (Devlin McNiff Halstead Real Estate) about 8 years ago

Kimberly - she has had a great time doing this.  It's too bad there were so many snow days that got in the way of the ending practice time before the competition.  I'm told that by the end of the day they worked pretty well together.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Good morning, Jay. Taking kids to the science museum is such fun. BTW, refresh my memory cuz it gets foggy at time, but didn't Sir Isaac invent the Fig Newton???

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) about 8 years ago

He did Michael.  He also came out with the Strawberry Newton, but it never caught on.  I think that one dropped from the tree of product offerings...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Looks like a lot of fun Jay. I think this is something my daughter may enjoy next year when she gets to middle school. Looking at the team picture I'm wondering if your daughter was the only girl in the competition?

Posted by Bob "RealMan" Timm, Owner of Ward Co. Notary Services, retired Realtor (Ward County Notary Services) about 8 years ago

Nothing like keeping their mind "sharp". Now just keep her interested and inspired.

Good post.

Clint

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) about 8 years ago

Sounds like a challenge and fun at the same time.  I can see teams getting frustrated and other perservering. It definitely takes practice.  Glad they had someone like you on their side.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) about 8 years ago

I think it is great that the kids are exposed to this kind of thing. These are the skills they will need to compete in an ever advancing world. They need to learn team work, discovery and how to balance a check book. Heck then they can run for government office.

Posted by Kathy Denworth, Realtor in the Florida Keys, Islamorada, Key Largo (Century 21 Schwartz Realty) about 8 years ago

Good morning Jay. Where was that kind of activity when I was young...oh yeah robots weren't really around yet. Yikes. Looks like a blast.

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) about 8 years ago

Jay, Activities for the kids have come a LONG way from my youth!  Bill

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) about 8 years ago

What a wonderful opportunity for these children and how important for them to have an adult show such caring and respect.

Posted by Tish Lloyd, Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches (BlueCoast Realty Corporation) about 8 years ago

Mr Jay:

Why don't you have her build one so the old man with the bad knees, elbows, wrists can lay back while the robotic inspector robatically inspects.

Nutsy

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 8 years ago

Jay,

This type of event is quite challenging and often the participants learn more about team play, and themselves than they do about science.

Brian

Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) about 8 years ago

Bob - I think she had a lot of fun.  She was very happy during the competition!  She was the only girl!

Clint - you throw a lot of things at kids.  Some things stick and some don't.  There's only one way to develop interests.

Debbie - you're right, it was both.  When I got the Pit Pass the other parents looked at me and wondered how I did it!  I'm good at that...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Kathy - I think the purpose of education is to learn to think for oneself.  There are a lot of subjects thrown at kids in school to get them to think in different ways.

Randy - me too!  We didn't have that stuff in our school either!

Same here Bliz!  I did sports, but might have considered something like this as well!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Tish - all the adults there showed great interest!  I saw a need and tried to fill it!

Nutsy - you talking about the old man with the bad knees, ankle and shoulder?   If so, he would LOVE that!

Brian - I think that was definitely the case here.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Mr Jay,

Yes, we both forgot the bad wrists.

Nutsy

 

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 8 years ago

Well, bad wrists beat limp wrists every time.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Great physics lessons...and more importantly what working as a team can accomplish.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 8 years ago

Thanks guys!  She had a good time.  They were all a bit disappointed, but lesson learned!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

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