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Robotics, Take Two

Previously a stellar robotics team from a local Virginia middle school, all budding-engineer 8th graders, competed in a Prince William County-wide robotics competition.  They did well enough to progress to the next competition!  Twenty two teams advanced to this new competition.

This competition was entirely different.  They had three months to come up with one of two kinds of bots - a large one that does work and a small speedster.  The eighth graders did the speedsters only.

This course was entirely different - this one is a figure 8.  The large bots had to be low enough to go through the tunnel, strong enough to go up and down hills, have an arm that can lift that ramp 12" and smack the balls so they wrap twice around the wooden arm.

THIS IS NO SMALL FEAT!

Keep in mind, every single bot works perfectly in the school's workshop!  Every bot works perfectly on paper!

But not every bot works perfectly!  They have to be tested!  The first time the kids find out if their bot does what it is designed to do is the morning of the competition.  Prior to that they know what it has to do, but no bot is tested in what it was designed to do.

So the teams are invited to come one hour early to test it!  If it does not do what they designed, they have one hour to add power, or wheels, or batteries for more strength, or change weight distribution to go up the hill without falling backwards...  well, they learn a lot in that hour!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it is back to the "pit" for tweaking!

EVERY SINGLE TEAM LEARNED THINGS ABOUT THEIR DESIGNS AND HAD TO CHANGE SOMETHING!  SOME BOTS DID NOT WORK AT ALL!  DESPITE BEING PERFECTLY DESIGNED ON PAPER, IN REAL LIFE SOME DID NOT WORK OUT AS PLANNED.

At this stage, unfortunately, some teams dropped out.

Our school entered one large bot and one speedster.  One head's up - during the competition, four bots are competing at the same time!  So they have to avoid each other, not block, not push off the ramp, and not prevent another from moving or from being able to perform its tasks.

The rule is, if you knock over another bot, you must right it or face a penalty!

My daughter's bot was accidentally turned over by a large one, that then used its arm to right it!

And they did so inside of 10 seconds.  Each round only lasts 3 minutes, so 10 seconds is a long time!

Once her bot was knocked off the hump and broke a wheel.  Another time it had a gear bent.

That cost them rounds, and unfortunately lots of points, as it required going into the pit to make repairs.  They had tool kits and lots of replacement parts in the pit!

There were 10 rounds in all.  So they competed in 8.

All in all, they came in 11/22.  Not great, but not bad!

The top three went on to the next level.

One final fun thing.  At the end they had a road race to see which of the speedsters was the fastest.

Of course the operator is essential in this race.

They timed each bot's ability to run the course two times.

My daughter won the competition!

At the end of her race, she celebrated her victory by climbing to the top of the hump and doing a victory dance, turning around a couple of times!

It was pretty funny, and the crowd loved it.

I happen to think that the reason she won was the fashion eye wear, but that is just me.

She was pretty good with the bot and the guiding mechanism!  When I told her I thought that maybe the cute eye wear was a big part of her win, I don't think she believed me...

All in all, it was a very fun morning.  I was able to schedule the morning to be there.  That isn't always possible!

But it was today.

It was great to watch all the kids, their ideas, abilities to make changes and repairs, and their work to make their bots happen!

The three winners had fabulous robots!

Congratulations to all who designed, built and competed!

 

 

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 21 commentsJay Markanich • May 28 2011 06:34AM

Comments

Good Morning, Jay. How fun...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) about 7 years ago

It was Michael.  She had a very good time!  I thought the design and the operator did great.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Congratulations!  What a great contest and great example of the Dolly Parton line in Steel Magnolias about the ability to accessorize!

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) about 7 years ago

Wallace - exactly!  What's an engineering competition without great eye wear!?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

I love this.  This is the type of practical education 8th graders should be having in this competitive world of business. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Lenn - we encouraged her at the beginning of the year to take advantage of the after-school activities that contribute to her learning.  She did lots of stuff this year.  Including cheerleading, but hey, she has to have some fun too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Congratulation daughter of Jay's....it sounds like you inherited the whole "attention to detail" thing from your Dad....and that's a good thing !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (Keller Williams 414-525-0563) about 7 years ago

That she had S&D!  I thought the bot was well designed and the operator pretty cute.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Nice to see that the next "generation of scientists" are hard at it.

Very good post. We need the youth more involved in science.

Clint

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) about 7 years ago

This was a part of the science curriculum Clint.  She gets extra credit, as she should.  I would also classify it as engineering!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Sounds like a great day to spend with the kiddos Jay. I love seeing what young minds can come up with if given a chance. Congrats to your daughter on her win. Have a great holiday weekend my friend.

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) about 7 years ago

Jay,

I love those type of competitions. Great lesson in design and application. Real world never seems to read the design papers to play nice with it ; ). This is where redundancy was invented.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Thanks Randy.  She, and all the kids (except I guess those who's robot didn't make it up the hill) had a great time I think.  Have a nice weekend as well.

Donald - it's interesting that everyone thought their designs to be perfect and work perfectly, only to find out that physics and kinetics have rules!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

My former neighbor is involved in the robotics program at Osbourne Park High School.  It's amazing the cool stuff kids get to do in school.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) about 7 years ago

That's where the competition was Chris Ann.  But it was middle schoolers only.  They did have some of the high school's examples of robots there though, and they were quite sophisticated!

Little Miss is going to Brentsville next year and wants to do robotics there too.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Nothing like watching the face of a kid light up when something they did works.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) about 7 years ago

There were a lot of lit faces Jack.  Some of those things were really spectacular.  Her face lit up when I wondered about the eyewear too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Jay,  Congratulations to your daughter.  It is amazing what some of these young people can do, as I found out helping judge a science fair recently.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) about 7 years ago

Steven - she had fun with the science fair also!  I agree, and was very impressed with some of the things the kids came up with!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Done.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 7 years ago

Well, I hope it is the new image Nutsy deserves.  Thank goodness you are retired and have the time to pull it off.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

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