By RENEE FITE
The robots built by Briggs School students might not look or cook like Hazel the robot from “The Jetsons” cartoon, but they do follow remote control commands.
Students participating in the Briggs School robotics program learn valuable skills, while having fun in the process.
The team meets Tuesdays and Thursdays after school, during Boys & Girls Club. Members have worked on three robots, increasing from one robot in competition to three.
After participating in three local competitions, all three robots have qualified for state contest in Oklahoma City Saturday, Feb. 1. Two of the teams’ robots have scored high enough to qualify for the U.S. Open Robotic Championships, to be held in Omaha, Neb., April 3-5.
The team sponsors – Lori Galvin, Briggs math teacher, and Jeannetta Glory, Briggs science teacher – couldn’t be more proud of their students.
“It sounded like an interesting concept I didn’t know much about,” said Galvin.
The program is in its second year, and Galvin especially values the experiences the students gain.
“Kids design the robots using critical thinking, and so it really gets them thinking about it,” Galvin said.
It’s a great opportunity, Glory added.
“The state is implementing Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM),” said Glory. “So this is a great way to tie all four of those together and show a connection between science and mathematics in the classroom on a project outside of the classroom.”
Three team members interacted with their robots Tuesday while explaining why they joined the team of seventh- and eighth-grade students. At first, they only moved the robots in place, but in a few minutes, they were moving them in circles, forward and backward and toward each other.
Hunter Millspaugh, first-year team member and seventh-grader, first became interested in the program because his brother said it was “pretty cool” to compete with the robots.
“It’s fun to go against other people, and fun to interact with people on the team,” Hunter said.
Team members took about eight weeks to build each robot.
“I learned how to build the right structure and to program it,” he said.
Juan Eligio, also in seventh grade, likes having something interesting to do while hanging out with friends.
“I’m learning new stuff. I learned not to mess with the robot right before competition,” Juan said. “The hardest thing to figure out was lining up the motor so it worked.”
He appreciated how he was able to learn from his mistakes.
“I also like seeing the world – well, other cities and schools,” Juan said.
Johnny Hothouse, eighth-grader, is a seasoned team member in is second year. He has enjoyed learning to program the robots.
“You have a [personal computer] to program the brain, like a USB. You download a disk with a program on it, which we had to drag and drop it over on to it,” Johnny said. “And you have to match up the wires.”
Everything about it is fun, he added.
“I like spending time with friends, meeting new friends, and learned not to take the wheels off at the last minute to scoot them closer together,” he said. “At competitions, we see other robots and get new ideas.”
Galvin appreciates how excited the kids get when they accomplish something on their own.
“When they discover how something works, or when their design works, they’re thrilled,” she said. “It carries over into the classroom; their grades improve and their attitudes improve,” Galvin said.
YOU CAN HELP
The Briggs robotics team is raising funds to attend the U.S. Open competition in April. Anyone wishing to donate to the team can contact Galvin or Glory at Briggs School, (918) 456-4221.