Travis Kruse and Donovan Phoenix compete with the team from Windom in the robotics competition held in Albert Lea on Feb. 9. Photo submitted
By Tara Lindquist
Hayfield High School's Pre-Engineering class, Shawn Chambers, Phoenix Donovan, Travis Kruse and Storm Draayer, have spent the last few months building a robot and on February 9 they put it to the test. Two from the class, Travis Kruse and Donovan Phoenix, traveled to Albert Lea on Saturday, February 9, to compete in their first robotics competition at Riverland Community College. The pair brought home a second place finish.
"I'm very proud of the boys and all the hard work they have put into designing and building this robot, they really came together as a team and worked well together," explained their teacher Marv Tjaden.
It's the first year the class has used the VEX robotic system, in years past they have done class segments using LEGO robotics but this was a new experience for the teacher and students alike. "We were lucky to be able to rent the kit from Riverland," Tjaden said. "Everything we needed to build the robot was included in the kit but the kids were still in charge of designing the robot and programming it."
The robot is built out of metal parts, small motors that run a claw and the robot. The claw is used to pick up beanbags during competition and drop them into a trough. Students were responsible for designing the robot, installing the motors and programming the remote control commands. The programming is done using computer software.
The class began building their robot in December and has spent over fifty hours building the machine. Early on they realized the robot would not withstand picking up a heavy beanbag very high without tipping over backwards so they added a fifth wheel in the back of the robot. "Most of their time was spent programing the robot," Tjaden said. "But there were little design flaws along the way that they had to tweak as well."
During a robotics competition, there is a 12 x 12 arena with beanbags lying throughout the arena, some are green and some are yellow. The yellow beanbags are worth more points when they are picked up and then successfully dropped into a trough that runs along the arena. Each team has two minutes to get as many beanbags into the trough as possible. The first 20 seconds of each competition the robot is programmed to run on its own before the students can take control and steer it to where it must go.
During their first competition the class placed second as an individual team and also second as an ally team where they worked with another team to compete against other teams.
"They did a great job and I know they really enjoyed it," Tjaden said. "The parents were also very supportive and some came out and helped us with last minute issues during the competition."
There is another competition coming up in March in St. Cloud that the class would like to attend but it is unclear if they will be going due to travel and budget limitations.