Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Bit More Detail on Robotics

Woodbury Public Schools
Woodbury High School
Press Release
November 21, 2006
Contact: Ari Ford 853-0123, ext. 349

Over the course of the past few years the Woodbury Public Schools System has had a focused initiative on increasing technology, science and mathematics across all content areas through the NASA Explorer Schools grant program. One aspect of this grant, allowed for the development of a robotics course to be taught at the Junior High School level. Over the past year and a half, this course, taught by Mr. Ari Ford, has grown and developed beyond the traditional classroom. An after school robotics club has been created.

Most recently the club entered the 2006 Philadelphia BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) robotics competition. The BEST program involved 20 school districts in the greater Philadelphia area including districts such as Moorestown, Dobbins Vo-tech, University City HS, and the Science and Technology HS of Philadelphia. The BEST competition is designed to inspire and interest students in engineering, science, and technology through participation in an exciting sports-like technology contest. Specific goals of this project include:

• Help students understand technical concepts and principles.
• Provide students with a real-world engineering challenge that includes limited time and resource constraints.
• Offer students an academic experience that encourages abstract thought, self-directed learning, and decision making.
• Provide mentoring through accomplished professionals from business, industry, and academia.
• Provide team-building experience for students.
• Promote good sportsmanship and ethical conduct within a competitive environment.

The Woodbury robotics team, consisting of 7th, 8th, and 9th graders, began their involvement in the BEST competition on September 28, 2006, in a kickoff ceremony that outlined the goals and structure for the competition. Students were provided with a box of parts that included: 4 motors, 4 micro switches, 2 speed controllers, wood, PVC pipe, and a remote control. They were then given instructions to design a robot that could hang wet laundry and take down dry laundry. Teams were given six weeks to build the robot, culminating in the actual competition that occurred on Saturday November 19, 2006, at Villanova University. In addition to being judged on the robot’s ability to complete the assigned tasks, students were also evaluated in the following categories: oral presentation, table display and interview, engineering journal and school spirit/ sportsmanship.

Over the course of the six-week period, students worked both before and after school for a combined total of over 40 hours. This work involved creativity, team work, independent research and design, trial and error methodology and out of the box thinking. This past Saturday at Villanova University all of that hard work paid off. Woodbury began the day finishing second in the open rounds; this earned them a birth in the semi-finals. The semi-finals proved to have some stiff competition with Woodbury winning a tie breaker to advance to the championship round. The team then dominated the championship with a 5 to 0 sweep to earn a first place finish in the Philadelphia BEST competition. The students will now travel to Auburn University in Alabama on December 8th and 9th to compete in the South’s BEST Regional Championship.

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