There is nothing in me that is an inventor. In fact, if it had been up to me to take charge of the world I think we would have the wheel, the hammer, and possibly the lever. Other than that, I’m pretty sure we would all still be living in the dark ages.
So, as I’m sure you can tell, I can’t imagine being told to create a robot that can perform tasks and then enter it in a competition. However, that is exactly what five CHS students in Eddy Parker’s class did and they didn’t just enter; they brought home third place!
Here’s the way it worked: All entered teams had to build a robot from materials given them by the contest directors. Teacher Eddy Parker went to Sweetwater to pick up the materials and brought them to Comanche. The robots were then built at school.
The Best Robotics Contest was held on the TSTC campus, and things couldn’t have started out any worse for the CHS students. The problem was that the CHS robot could not get the traction needed to accomplish its tasks.
According to teacher Eddy Parker, “Each robot had to catch “bugs” and then get “bug food.” That was no problem, but then the robot had to deposit what it collected and it had to climb over obstacles to get to where it could deposit.
“For four solid hours we competed, but we could not overcome the problem even though the kids made adjustments after every round. We were great at collecting, but we just could not deposit.
“Finally in the last round of the preliminaries we overcame the problem and we beat the team we had to beat to squeak into the finals. From that point forward, we could compete with all of them,” said a grinning Parker.
According to the students, the problem was that the pipe on the bottom kept hooking on the incline when they tried to deposit. They finally realized that they could fix this bof the robot by putting a plastic shield over it to help their traction, kind of like a rear skid on an airplane.
By their own admission, Derek Morgan, Diana Duran, Jorge Anaya, Daniel Cruz, and Moises Martinez had never been involved in anything like this contest, and the problems of the morning made it feel like what they called a yawn contest.
However, as soon as the CHS team made their first deposit, the crowd became electrified! With the crowd cheering for Comanche and adults coming up to encourage the kids, the yawn disappeared, and they began to realize that they just might have a chance.
The kids explained their strategy to me when I visited them at the school. “We had the most unique robot there because we designed it so that we could pick up the bugs and the food with one pickup and not have to go back and forth like everyone else. This saved us a lot of time.”
I asked the kids to do a robot building class for dummies and explain to me just why the judges thought their design so unique.
“We had to create our own design so we decided on a box. Then we had to figure out how to get our bugs. Since they would be up, we built our robot with an arm with a claw that could reach up.
“Then, we had to decide how to deposit so we put and incline board in the robot and a hole in the back of him (the box).”
In closing Parker said, “When they called us up for the trophy, one of the kids was holding a guitar that we had used in a skit and he danced it all the way to the stage. It was so great to see these kids so successful and accomplish more than they ever thought they could!”
And after all is said and done, what will these five students take away from all of this?
“Teamwork and coming together as a team is what is really important,” said Derek Morgan.
Moises Martinez added, “We had a great time, and we learned to never give up because you can always come back!”
We agree and we send out a HUGE congratulations to all five of them as well as to their teacher, Eddy Parker. How thankful we are for teachers like Mr. Parker and others who give so much of their time to give their students the best possible chance at success….Fredda Davis Jones