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MVHS Robotics Club competes
The MVHS Robotics Club: (front row) Advisor Laura Columbia, Tucker Phelps, Corbin Arsenault, Michael Lloyd and Advisor Peter Kemeraitis; (back row) Kalim Chhoun, Alex Durfee, Griffin Hamel, Ron Russell, Dakota White, Curtis Steele and Jacob McInnis.
Alex Durfee (left), Corbin Arsenault and Tucker Phelps (right) tinker with the VEX robot just prior to the tournament competition.
RUMFORD -- Members of the Mountain Valley High School Robotics Club got up before the sun on a Saturday morning. They headed to Cape Elizabeth to compete in the Southern Maine VEX Tournament.
While the competition results were not high, the club members learned a lot in the process.
Junior Shawn Bennett, who is the club leader, explained, “This is our first year with new technology that we haven’t experimented with a lot. We only had two months to get the robot up and going. We probably should have waited another year.”
The new technology is the VEX Robotics System. Prior to this year, the club used LEGO Mindstorm.
According to the VEX Robotics website, “The VEX Robotics Design System offers students an exciting platform for learning about areas rich with career opportunities spanning science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Beyond science and engineering principles, a VEX Robotics project encourages teamwork, leadership and problem solving among groups. The affordable VEX platform is expanding rapidly and is now found in middle schools, high schools and university labs around the globe.”
So what is a robotics competition?
Bennett said, “Robots challenge other robots to do a certain task. The year’s task was to pick up a bean bag, drive over to a trough that was 18 inches off the ground and drop the bean bag into it as quickly as possible. Other tasks involve getting bean bags within other targets.”
While this may sound easy to the uninitiated, the robot only has 2 minutes to perform the tasks. The first 15 seconds must be preprogrammed so the robot is on its own. After that, the user can direct the robot for the remaining time.
Sophomores Corbin Arsenault and Tucker Phelps drove the robot during the user-directed part of the competition.
With the competition done for the year, what do the club members have to look forward to?
“We can come up with new task ideas and challenges to complete,” Bennett suggested. “Then we can rebuild and reprogram the robot to do those tasks. That way we’ll learn more about how the equipment works.”
Members of the Robotics Club who participated in the tournament included freshman Jacob McInnis, Ron Russell, Curtis Steele and Dakota White; sophomores Corbin Arsenault, Griffin Hamel, Michael Lloyd, and Tucker Phelps; junior Alex Durfee and senior Kalim Chhoun. Bennett was unable to join the team; he had the Scholastic Aptitude Test to do! Additional members consist of junior Lance Richard and senior Robert Sanders.
Science Teacher Laura Columbia and Computer Technician Peter Kemeraitis serve as advisors for the club.
Columbia reflected on the competition, “We competed against schools with multiple teams, multiple robots and thousands of dollars invested in their robots. For a first year, we achieved our goal of not being last and we learned what to do better for next year.”
The VEX Robot at MVHS was funded by very generous donations from Fitch Engineering and Pam Rousseau, a former physics teacher. Rousseau had worked with the team for four years.