GREENSBURG – A Greensburg Junior High School team recently won fourth place in a robotics competition in which it competed against high school level teams and Cummins Inc. engineers.
On a Friday night in mid-January, Jonathon Bradley, 14; Jared Crawley, 14; and Alex Henderson, 13; drove to Columbus, got locked into the school with other participants and supervisors and learned about their task: Build a robot from a kit to pick up and stack objects.
The team opened the box that contained parts and tools for the robot, read directions and began the design and assembly. At midnight, the teams got some additional parts. They improved the design, ran tests, adjusted the design some more and tested some more.
Many of the students stayed up until 3 a.m. to work on the robots, said Deborah Gaff, Greensburg Junior High’s science teacher, who served as the students’ mentor.
Students grabbed a few hours of sleep on chairs and sleeping bags, but were woken early the next morning to prepare for the day-long competition.
The three Greensburg students split the competition duties, with Jared and Alex building the robot’s base, while Jonathon built the robot’s top part, including its arm. During the various rounds, Jonathon operated the robot, and Jared and Alex took turns as spotters, making sure that the robot did not run into any obstacles.
“I had a lot of fun,” Alex said.
Jared said he also liked that the competition required cooperation with other teams and figuring out with which team it made sense to cooperate, depending on the strengths and weaknesses of one another’s robots. The competition required the robots to pick up and stack objects, and the team had to combine its robot’s strength (picking up and moving the objects) with those of another team (stacking the objects).