Sells Middle School Robotics team Moderately Confused has been on a roll the past few years.
Last year the team won the 2012 Global Innovation Award from FIRST LEGO League – which meant $250,000 in services and support from Edison Nation to help bring the idea for an “Erasable Barcode” to market.
This year’s team of eight students, fourth- through eighth-graders, hoped to repeat last year’s success, but did not place high enough – 174th out of 470 entries – in the popular voting to advance as semi-finalists. Results from the 2013 competition are posted at www.firstlegoleague.org.
The theme of the 2013 competition was Senior Solutions – helping seniors stay engaged and active. The team was to identify a problem related to senior citizens and create a solution. Its invention was the Fall Watch, a watch that addresses the problem of seniors falling and unable to reach medical assistance. If a fall is registered via the accelerometers in the watch, emergency services are called automatically, unless the wearer cancels the alert.
The invention was part of the team’s entry for this year’s FIRST LEGO League competition, which also included an autonomous LEGO robot component. More than 1,000 teams worldwide compete in the Lego League. This year’s team members were Alan Ding, Edwin Glaubitz, Matthew Gerberick, Nathan Sears, Peter Glaubitz, Seth deSanJose, Varun Madan and Xander Simonette. Their coaches were Paul Glaubitz, Jenn Glaubitz and Tom Sears.
Among the challenges the pre-programmed robot had to complete were identifying and picking up a bottle of a certain color out of a row of bottles and balancing on a platform. If the platform
tipped and the robot touched the ground, the team would not receive any points for that task. The robot had three motors, two light sensors and one moveable color sensor. It had six attachments to help with each of the tasks, or “missions,” it was expected to complete.
Moderately Confused did not make it past the first rounds in state competition this year due to technical difficulties, but even though this year’s team members didn’t do as well as they hoped, there were still benefits of team membership and lessons to be learned.
“They learn to work together as a team, presenting skills, designing and building a robot, and computer programming with common programs such as NXT, and are introduced to math, science, and engineering,” says Jenn Glaubitz, a mathematics instructor at Columbus State Community College and mother of Peter and Edwin.
At the start of the school year, interested students sign up and start meeting for about two hours a week. As the deadline for competitions draws closer, the team spends up to 10 hours a week working on the robot and preparing their presentations either at Sells Middle School or at the home of coaches Paul and Jenn Glaubitz. The team is sponsored by Dublin Robotics Boosters, but team members draw up their own budget for parts and borrow parts from the boosters.
Sixth-grader Peter Glaubitz, 12, helped with programming the robot, but said he was “bad with building the robot. I leave that to (my brother) Edwin.”
Peter says he most enjoys going to competitions and “wanted to go to districts.”
Seventh-grader Alan, 13, joined the team for the first time this year. He enjoys computer programming.
Edwin Glaubitz, 14, is in eighth grade and is the oldest member of the team. He joined three years ago and has been involved with robotics for four years.
“I joined the team on my own, and I enjoy building robots,” Edwin says.
Amanda King is a contributing writer. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.