Cumberland robotics team set to compete

Published 10:57 am Thursday, March 10, 2016

The first-ever Robotics Team has been launched at Cumberland County High School.

The 15-member student team, which is led by advisers Myrna Barr and Michael Giles, is building a robot from a kit and used parts that will eventually throw a ball a distance, competing against other schools in other areas.

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A $6,000 grant from Mid-Atlantic Broadband is helping the new high school club propel, just as they hope their ball will from the arms of their robot.

Giles has been assisting the club since November, when the students first assembled to create the club.

“I was talking with Mr. (Jeff) Scales (the high school’s principal) actually during volleyball season if they were going to do anything,” Giles said. “As soon as they got everything up and running I was the first one they talked to.”

“Last year she had started with some of the STEM activities in her Spanish class,” Scales said of Barr using science, technology, engineering and math in her lessons. “Then when she heard about the robotics … it just kind of worked hand in hand with her.”

“It’s all right here,” Giles said of the STEM connections to the club.

“It ties into all of it. Science, technology, engineering and math, every facet of it is done,” he said. “They just got done programming it from hardwire to wireless.”

He said the students were now progressing into the programming phase of building the robot, which they hope to compete with.

“They have to compute and calculate because they have to make some adjustments to the engineering end of the motors,” Scales said. “It’s all encompassing.”

The donation from Mid-Atlantic Broadband will allow the team to enter the FIRST Robotics Competition once their machine is built and ready to compete against others like it.

“We want to teach the kids how to … actually to take a motor and wire it up and make a motor and then tell it to move and do something,” Giles said. “It’s a completely different type of program. It’s a lot of different advocations … that you can work with as far as robotics than just like working with a database or maybe if you know HTML and you can do a website.”

The Robotics club offers lots of real-world applications, he said.

“They get a lot of the design factor too,” Giles said. “The engineering part of the STEM … They get the science because they have to deal with the wiring and how the power works and they have to calculate, and that’s the math. And the technology, that’s all they have to develop the arm. So developing the arm was a certain type of technology.”

“We actually had to tune the motors so that they would work together,” he said, noting that the developed skills could be used in other ways.

“Developing that technology and that process of thinking, it’s a lot of stuff that they can do with that.”

Giles said that a few parts of the robot came from an old Dodge Neon.

“We have the drive done. We have the arm done,” Giles said.

Student Brandon White is a member of the new club. He said he was interested in the club because of its ties to STEM and the skills he could take with him to college.

“I originally helped with the design of the base of it and then I helped with the wiring of it,” White said. “And I want to try to help tomorrow to see who the driver is.”

White said it was cool to see the robot work. “Today we wired everything up. We got the program set. And to see the wheels move is pretty cool.”

Most of the parts, such as the base of the robot, came from a kit, he said. The robot will be able to launch a ball about 13 feet across the floor.

The Robotics Team is preparing for its two competitions.

The students practice with the robot in the high school’s academic wing.