Crossroads Charter Academy Elementary School students program their robot for an upcoming challenge

COW MISSION: Griffin Guernsey looks over the instructions as he puts together cows the team will use to practice with to prepare for their competition in Grand Rapids. (Pioneer photos/Meghan Haas)

COW MISSION: Griffin Guernsey looks over the instructions as he puts together cows the team will use to practice with to prepare for their competition in Grand Rapids. (Pioneer photos/Meghan Haas)

BIG RAPIDS — Cords, Legos, computers and booklets were carefully spread across one of the tables in co-coach Vickie Trombley’s classroom on Wednesday at Crossroads Charter Academy Elementary School. One of the other tables was taken up by a practice arena for the robot the students were preparing for their upcoming competition.

The Robo Cats is CCA’s youngest robotics team, with students ages ranging from 7 to 12, according to co-coach Cheryl Wright. Trombley and Wright are teachers at CCA and are trying their hand in helping the robotics group learn with Legos. This is their first year as coaches.

“We are really excited,” Wright said about the competition on Saturday, which will take place in Grand Rapids.

PROGRAMMING THE ROBOT: Violet Talsma (left) connects pieces for one of the robots while Johnny Christensen (right) works on programming for another robot. Within minutes the two had one robot ready to roll.

The Robo Cats will head to Grand Rapids Saturday morning to show their robot’s skills in performing tasks for the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Challenge. One of the tasks will be moving a Lego shark tank from one corner of the arena to the other. The tank must be rotated to fit inside a box drawn on the arena map, then must be shifted to another similar box.

During Wednesday’s practice at CCA, the students worked to program the robot to be able to turn so it could push the shark tank the right way. Students also worked to build more pieces of the arena that will be similar to what they face on Saturday.

“I like the programming and building with Legos,” said Violet Talsma.

Talsma joined the robotics team because she thought it would be fun. While she worked connecting parts of the robot, Braylon Derevage built some of the arena pieces, or as he called them “mission models.”

“I’ve always liked Legos,” Deverage said about why he joined the team.

While mission models and the robot itself are important for the team, other significant aspects of the team are the poster, showing the FIRST core values and the presentation the students will make while they are at the competition.

“The theme is Animal Allies,” Trombley said about the competition.

WOLF PRESENTATION: Evan Marcinkewciz (front) and Runny Fuller (back) discuss their slideshow presentation about wolves. The presentation will earn their team points toward their overall score on Saturday. (Pioneer photos/Meghan Haas)

WOLF PRESENTATION: Evan Marcinkewciz (front) and Runny Fuller (back) discuss their slideshow presentation about wolves. The presentation will earn their team points toward their overall score on Saturday. 

With an animal theme, the students’ challenges will be based on animals, like moving the shark tank. Their presentation will have to be about animals, a problem facing the animal and a solution the students have come up with to the problem.

 

“Our group chose wolves,” said Runny Fuller as he worked on the presentation slideshow.

Fuller said his teammates each have to read part of the presentation, which focuses on the few wolves in Michigan. On Saturday, presenting the slideshow will be part of the score the team will receive along with the points their robot earns during the challenges.

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Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at mhaas@pioneergroup.com.

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