Has anyone been hearing students talk about their robotics teams and their wins?
Well it’s been happening at Kohala High and Kohala Middle School. Each school has robotics teams, and here’s a brief robotics education for the amateur person.
First of all, when you hear that they are entered into a Botball, VEX, or FIRST competition, they are talking about different types of robotic device kits available from Botball, VEX or FIRST organizations. Each type of robot generally competes against its type, usually within an age group. Each has its own contests, starting with local, state, national and world competitions, with its own set of rules.
Each year, the different robotics programs have different robotics goals and the specific kits to achieve them. How the students put a kit together to achieve the goal and make the most points in the specified amount of time is how they win. The students for each activity form a team where each member serves as a builder, programmer, driver, coach or combination.
The Botball Educational Robotics Program “engages middle and high school aged students in a team-oriented robotics competition based on national science education standards. By designing, building, programming, and documenting robots, students use science, engineering, technology, math, and writing skills in a hands-on project that reinforces their learning.”
This year’s Botball game was “Reef Renewal.” Botguy, while caring for his fish farm, realized that his livelihood was in trouble. A recent hurricane had destroyed much of his business, putting his life in jeopardy. He must build an artificial reef, plant brain coral, and plant coral polyps to rebuild his farm. But this is too much for one Botguy! When attempting to fix a kelp wall, he realized he was low on air, and too exhausted to get back. He needs your help! [Botball.org.] The student can only computer program the Botguy to do the work. It is not maneuvered by a remote control. If the unit does not move the way it should, it means reprogramming with the computer and trying again.
Difficult for us, but for these students, easy?
Well here’s what Teshna Gilhaus, a seventh-grader, had to say, “You have to program the whole robot. You have to build with what you get, i.e. legos and metal. Sometimes the robots do their own thing.”
Josh Tomiyama, junior (builder), commented, “Building is fun and frustrating. It is always a brand new experience: working it 100% of the time and always having to troubleshoot. Then let Saian Smith, junior (programmer), make it happen by fine-tuning and adjusting the angle. “Have to make the program code to do what needs to be done. Seeing it do what you ask is just great!”
All of this has to be documented and presented at the tournaments as part of the overall scoring. The VEX game is composed of two teams each who compete in matches consisting of a 20-second autonomous period (the robot is programmed to act on its own) followed by two minutes of driver-controlled play.
In developing the robot design, students identify the need; define the problem and conduct research; brainstorm; design, test and evaluate the best solution; build a prototype; refine or redesign and then build their robot. (Vexrobotics.com)
Kohala High’s VEX and FIRST team members (seniors) spoke quite candidly about their robots. Michael Nelson is the leader and has been in robotics for four years, says, “It takes a lot of everything including driving, programming, building and coaching. He explained that, “VEX is the segue to FIRST.” Joey Vignato followed with, “drive the VEX robot and drop the balls, up to two players and alliances.” It’s teamwork when you have two drivers or possibly alliances with other teams.”
Michael pointed out that, “FIRST is more serious, VEX is more fun.” Bert Kanoa Jr. is a builder and is building a chasse and he likes FIRST. Joey, the programmer, says, ‘FIRST is more stress” and he likes VEX. Adam Anakalea adds, “it takes so much time to build FIRST.”
Kohala Middle students include Patrick Nelson, Kaliko Dela Cruz and Tehvyn Isabel. They are very excited about their travels as they competed in the VEX Pan Pacific, Stevenson Middle School, Oahu; U.S. Nationals in Omaha, Neb., and VEX World Competition in Anaheim, Calif., this year.
The FIRST Robotics Competition is an international high school robotics competition organized by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). Each year, teams of high school students compete to build robots weighing up to 120 pounds, not including battery and bumpers, which can complete a task, which changes every year.
Teams are given a standard set of parts and the game details at the beginning of January and are given six weeks to construct a competitive robot, that can operate autonomously as well as when guided by wireless controls, to accomplish the game’s tasks. These individuals volunteer their time as mentors: Fern White, Kohala High School English teacher; Alvin Kawamoto, retired teacher; Eric Dela Cruz, engineer, and assistant Cheryl Cabrera.
This year the Kohala students excelled, as their record shows. In the VEX 2012 arena they were tournament finalists, tournament champions, National 10th RobotSkills and Pan Pacific Safety Award; U.S. National second place, World Championships second place and Teamwork Award winners. A special acknowledgement goes to Michael Nelson as a FIRST Dean’s List finalist. He was in the top 100 out of 15,000 nominees.
Kawamoto said he was inspired to be a part of Team 2460: “I saw that it was not only a competition, and that we were also forced to work with other teams to create alliances.” White, their motivator and encourager, said “Project-based learning and performance-based assessment are about real-life learning. Therefore, inspiring students beyond the classroom day is important to me. Ensuring that student have opportunities they would otherwise not experience, especially within and beyond our rural community, makes my extra hours worth it.”
As part of the Summer Reading Program, Honokaa Public Library will present a craft program with Auntie Dawn Shibano, making Dream Boxes on Thursday, June 14, at 2 p.m. This free program is open to all library patrons and all materials will be provided. For more information, please call the library at 775-8881.
A meeting concerning the ongoing Ahualoa-Honokaa Waterline Project will be held Thursday, June 14, from 6-8 p.m. at the Honokaa School cafeteria. Department of Water Supply officials and Goodfellow Construction representatives will be present to answer your questions and concerns.
Water pipes are currently being installed along Kapuna Road and Old Mamalahoa Highway to link the new Ahualoa well to the Honokaa water system. How this new system will serve Ahualoa, Honokaa and other communities is one of the questions on the agenda. Please contact Constance Fay, Ahualoa Community Association president, with other questions and concerns. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; cell: 987-8166. Dominic Yagong, District 1 Council member, and the ACA are sponsoring the meeting.
Carol Yurth’s column is published every Sunday and spotlights activities on the Hilo-Hamakua coast. She welcomes items for her column. Reach her by mail (46-1240 Kalehua Road, Honokaa HI 96727) at least 10 days before the requested publication date, call her at 775-7101, or e-mail email@example.com.