Upcoming Event: MS Final Challenge!

In the Providence Middle School, fourteen 7th and 8th Graders are working busily on their capstone project for the semester: the Intro to Engineering Final Challenge! Every semester, the students in this elective are given a game-style challenge to complete, which involves designing, building, and programming a robot using LEGO Mindstorms EV3 sets.

This semester’s challenge is being played out on a large elevated plywood platform, 8 ft by 8 ft. Mr Meadth spent a happy few hours putting this together in the science lab.

Each team of two students must create a robot that can sweep the platform clear of various pieces of coloured “debris”; imagine a small robot whose task is to permanently keep a rooftop helipad clear of windblown trash. Two robots are running in each round simultaneously, and whoever pushes off the most debris wins.
Special note: the pieces of “debris” we are using are the game pieces designed by Eva last year for her high school Educational Design project! Naturally, they are printed on our mod-T printers, which are still running strong (and now only $299 on their website!).
There are significant challenges associated with this project. How do you keep the robot from falling off the edge of the platform? How do you actually have the robot find the scattered debris? Does it run a blind search pattern, or does it try to use sensors to actively search? What kind of locomotive means does it use? Tracks or wheels or something else? What if it bumps into another robot?

Let’s introduce our competitors this semester:

Isabela and Lily with their wheeled wonder–note the absence of rubber tires
on the front wheels to allow sideways slippage when turning

Christine and Sofi with their light and fast Pretzel Bot

James and Dylan with an imposing bulldozer–note the ultrasonic sensor on the
front to look for debris

Zach and Alan also went with a tracked design, and a large superstructure on
top for style points!

Ma.kaha and Cameron put their colour sensor way out in front to detect the edge
of the table–not falling off the table is critical to success!

Asher and Sam have an armoured design that looks just plain scary

Masato and Isaiah did some late redesign work to try to bring down their weight–
the robot with a lower weight gets the advantage of being placed first
The students will be presenting their completed designs to the rest of the class this Friday. The actual competition will take place in the Boys & Girls Club gymnasium on Monday and Tuesday at 1:00 during regular class time. Parents and friends are welcome, and it promises to be a lot of high energy fun!

Grant Awarded: EnergyPartners Fund

As part of their Community Design Project, the six members of the Advanced Engineering I class worked jointly on a grant request to a local organization, the EnergyPartners Fund. This grant, totaling $1,500, was aimed at purchasing the necessary raw materials and tools for actually building the planned play structure.

Just to be clear, it was Jake, Caleb, Tys, Aaron, Sarah Jane, and Kylie who were tasked with writing this grant—no teachers involved! Three teams of two drafted three separate grant requests, and then Mr Meadth took the best answers for each question and collated them into one official proposal.

We won’t leave you in suspense… the grant request was accepted by the EnergyPartners Fund in full! Tys volunteered to travel up to Santa Maria with Mr and Mrs Meadth, and accept the award in person at the stylish Presqu’ile Winery.

Mr Meadth and Tys in front of the EnergyPartners Fund sponsor sign

The simple ceremony showcased a variety of STEM education projects happening around Santa Barbara county. Students from local schools are working on VEX robots just as we are, and the nearly-open downtown MOXI museum received funds for professional-grade 3D printers (this museum will be a possible service opportunity for our own students). We also met with a representative of the Maritime Museum, and learned about their interesting historical education programs. And if you haven’t heard of Riviera Robotics, the local robotics team run entirely by students, you should check them out; two of their members were present to receive their award.

All in all, lots of great connections, and we are very grateful to the many sponsors of the EnergyPartners Fund for promoting the work we are doing! Thanks once again to the talented students who represented Providence in such a convincing way.