Club works on programming robot before competition
February 21, 2012
Treasure Mountain Junior High School Robotics Club will travel to Denver, Colo., in March to participate in the First TECH Competition with more than 50 national teams. This is the first year for the club, according to Treasure Mountain Junior High School teacher-sponsor Julie Hooker, who said the group is student-run.
"The students came up with the idea and approached Principal O’Connor with it to have an after-school academic club," she said. "It’s very exciting because this is the first time anything like this has happened. I have to credit the students and also Bob O’Connor. He has made sure that the students have had everything they need to be successful."
The club consists of one eighth-grader and four ninth-graders, along with more than 10 students who are learning the ropes for next year. Hooker said there are several students who have expressed interest in the club and she hopes the membership base will expand even more next year.
"The cool thing about it is that it’s for all students and it crosses over different parts of the curriculum. The robotics arena is set up in the English and language arts hallway and kids are getting excited and questioning it," she said. "The ninth-graders are already talking about coming back next year and helping to coach another team."
When the club was established in November, Hooker said parents and students went to Home Depot for the supplies they needed to build an arena, where the robot completes its tasks. She said the supplies cost about $800.
"It’s expensive, and yet it’s not unmanageable. For what the students are getting out of it, I think its money well spent," Hooker said, adding that the club’s expenses have been funded through private donations, including the team’s airfare to Denver.
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Engineer Burt Pacal helped the students build the robot, which has an arm that can lift objects. The students have also been working on programming the robot, which Robotics Club Vice President Max Johansen said is one of the hardest tasks.
" specific definition it isn’t a robot yet, right now it’s more of a remote control car, but we are working hard on the programming and putting time to good use," Johansen said, adding that he jumped on board with the idea from the beginning after talking with O’Connor.
"Principal O’Connor was always really supportive. He’s offered us more than we need," Johansen said. "We actually have two sets of robots so one is our competition model and one is for testing out new ideas."
Taking on new leadership roles is one of the most beneficial aspects of the club, according to Hooker, who said that it encourages students to communicate through the hobby. The team will start meeting every day as the competition gets closer.
"It’s nice to pave the road for future clubs," Johansen added. "I don’t know if we’re going to have the highest odds of winning this time around, but were definitely going to try next year and it’s nice to have established something that were going to keep using."