Club Spotlight: Robotics Club
Our Robotics Club makes STEM skills accessible for all students, giving them a fun opportunity to develop skills in mathematics and problem solving.
BY David Black
2020 marks twelve consecutive years of VEX Robotics for the LuHi Robotics Club!
For some people, robotics remains an intimidating prospect, but our Robotics Club makes STEM skills accessible for all students, giving them a fun opportunity to develop skills in mathematics, creative problem solving, engineering, and team cooperation. Plus, they make friends in the process!
Robotics is one of the few clubs that meets all year. Every Monday and Thursday from 5-8 pm students dedicate themselves toward designing and building robots that will compete in tournaments against other schools’ robots. You might think this competition factor is what motivates the students to spend 250 hours designing, building, programing and modifying their robots, but club facilitator Matthew Rodefeld says there’s more to the club than winning.
“While it's fun to go to tournaments and see the other teams' robots and play matches to see which robots and drive teams are the most efficient, the success of our team is not measured in wins and losses, because the journey is more important than the destination."
By participating in Robotics, students develop a variety of creative and technical talents that will follow them through life and into future professions. Mr. Rodefeld lists a few:
- How to analyze a problem and break it down into smaller components and solutions
- How to integrate the smaller solutions into the total robot
- Testing and iteration of the robot
- Teamwork and working through differences of opinion
- Creative thinking about alternative ways to play the game and how to take the given parts and create an efficient robot
- Computer aided design
- How to be a gracious winner and loser
The game changes each year and is announced at the end of April. In this way teams are presented with the challenge of creating a robot with a specific functionality by October, when the tournaments begin. This year’s game is called Tower Takeover.
“The objective is to manipulate 5.5-inch cubes and score stacks into goal zones, or a single cube into towers,” says Mr. Rodefeld. “The colors do matter; a cube in a tower adds one point to each cube stacked in a scoring zone. This year’s game is exciting because it adds a level of strategy that has not been present before. Previous games have been almost purely about being the quickest robot. Just being quick to pick up cubes this year does not necessarily mean that your team wins.”
Every tournament includes robot inspection, qualification matches, a skills challenge, alliance selection and elimination matches. Inspection ensures that robots comply with the build rules and code. Once a robot passes, it is assigned alliances to compete with against other alliances in qualification matches, which begin with a 15-second autonomous period followed by a 1:45 driver control period. After qualification, the winning teams join with a second team for the elimination rounds, which are single elimination.
This year the LuHi team is comprised of thirteen people divided into three teams. They’ve performed in four competitions, and one of the teams has won a tournament - earning them a place at the State Competition! Currently they are preparing for their next competition by spending most of their time programing autonomous patterns and practicing driving.
The Robotics Club is a great opportunity to meet and work with other students towards a creative venture, as well as building skills that will enhance future careers. If you are interested in Robotics or pursuing STEM activities at a greater intensity, check out LuHi’s STEM Academy.
All three teams had a great year and are enjoying a month break before next year’s competition details are released. Then, it will be back to work! Congrats to two of our teams - Vex Victory (1166V) and Dihydrogen Monoxide (1166Z) - who made it to the Colorado State Vex Championship at CU Denver last month.
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