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SCW Robotics team earns 1st place

Members of the St. Clare Walker Middle School Robotics Team are Cole Ruark (front); standing from left, Jacob Winn, Jerry Lindsey, Chloe Hodges, Kenneth Beam, Tyler Radabaugh, Jack Graulich and Jack Ruark.

by Jack Graulich
and Tyler Radabaugh

On November 9, the FIRST Robotics team from St. Clare Walker (SCW) Middle School attended regional competition at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School in Richmond. SCW club members have been preparing for two months and developed an invention, prototype, and programmed a robot to perform specific tasks. 

This year FIRST Robotics had a theme of “Nature’s Fury,” which includes all natural disasters. The team developed an invention that would help people prepare, survive, and recover from a hurricane.

Students came up with the “Flash Wall,” a device that resembles a wall that pops up from the ground using hydraulics surrounding one’s home. The Flash Wall should theoretically prevent water from reaching your home during flash floods resulting from hurricanes.

The SCW team researched damage to Middlesex County from Hurricane Isabel in 2003. The students came up with an alternate resource to use to make the Flash Wall with cenocell, a material made from compressed coal ash. Each year 125 million pounds of waste can be recycled into cenocell. This material is lighter, cheaper, stronger, and more environmentally friendly than concrete.

For additional guidance, the students interviewed Mark Nugent, Middlesex County Emergency Services Coordinator, and he gave his opinion on different aspects of the Flash Wall prototype and presentation. 

For the competition, students were required to build a LEGO Mindstorms robot that would perform tasks on an official FIRST Robotics mat. The robot had to be programmed to complete tasks such as pushing a person from one place to another, pushing a lever that released an airplane, and capturing objects on the mat. 

At the competition, the students were evaluated on the robot’s performance and robot design, the project solution, and a core values test. FIRST Robotics insists each member much be respectful of each other and enjoy themselves at the competition. The core values test graded each of the FIRST Robotics members on their teamwork and graciousness throughout the whole competition, as well as how they treated others. 

The SCW team achieved high marks in each category and received first place for their research project, which included scoring on the presentation to the judges.

Unfortunately, the SCW team did not qualify to advance to the state competition, but the students are very pleased with their win and learned a lot. The students look forward to performing even better in all categories next year.

Students on the SCW FIRST Robotics team are Kenneth Beam, Jack Graulich, Chloe Hodges, Jerry Lindsey, Tyler Radabaugh, Cole Ruark, Jack Ruark and Jacob Winn. Team member Brayden Miller was unable to attend the competition. The team is coached by Matthew Short, SCW technology teacher, and mentored by Kathy Ruark, technology coordinator for Middlesex County Public Schools.

posted 11.13.2013

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