PAHS robotics team fares well in first showing in BEST

PUNXSUTAWNEY — In the annual BOTS IQ competition, PAHS robotics students build machines to destroy or damage other robots.

But during a meeting of the Punxsutawney Area School Board Monday, the team demonstrated another robot, for the BEST competition, designed to be helpful, not destructive.

Weather Capital Robotics, the PAHS robotics team, competed against 19 other schools Oct 21-22 in the Wolverine BEST Hub 2011 Robotic competition at Grove City College, according to advisor Keith Hughes.
Hughes said the BOTS IQ challenge — in which PAHS has taken part for four years — “is different every year, because of the innovations made in the design of the competing robots. The objective with BOTS IQ is to score points by ‘attacking your opponent.’”

The purpose of BEST — which stands for Boosting Engineering, Science & Technology, founded in 1993 by two Texas Instruments engineers — however, is to score points during the round by executing different challenges, Hughes said.

In its first year taking part in the competition with its robot, “Luvbug,” the team took third overall on Game Day, Oct. 21-22, and first place in marketing, a 30-minute presentation about how the team marketed and promoted the robot and the event.

Milliron said the team worked for about two hours after school Tuesday through Thursday on its robot, and three hours Monday through Thursday for about three weeks before the contest.

He said the preparation and participation in the event taught team members about writing; CDA parametric design; metal/wood skills; graphics; business; art; math; science; and computer science.

This year’s theme involved bugs — flies, cockroaches and termites made with different materials, according to club President Tyler Milliron — with the objective to get as many of the genetically-mutated bugs into a containment area, with the more-difficult containment areas having a higher scoring multiplier.

Teams could also earn bonus points if they were able to “feed” — with tennis balls — the bugs.

Weather Capital Robotics also partnered with various faculty members and with businesses such as Femco Machine for parts and some manufacturing.
Funds for the Punxsy team’s participation were also available through a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) grant.

PAHS Principal David London said the team’s biggest challenge was simple: “They had to build the best robot. It really took a lot of thought and design in this.”

During her report on educational achievement to the board, board member Roberta Dinsmore said the students’ effort at the Wolverine BEST Hub 2011 Robotic competition showed “what educational achievement is all about.”