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New robotics program already producing results
SV High Technology Teacher Nick Oetinger and two of his students were guests of the SV Board of Education March 21. At the meeting, Mr. O and his students gave a presentation on robotics classes going on at the high school, and demonstrated what some of their robots are capable of. The presentation was well received, and following this, Mr. O was kind enough to expand on what's happening in these classes:

The Robotics Program is a brand new class that was just offered to students this year. Since the students have never done any type of programming or robotics stuff before (I do not believe anyone else in the district does it) I had to start with the very basics. The first few things we did were all logic based, to get them thinking step by step logically, just as a robot does. To get this point across, I used website activities such as code.org. I also did an activity where they had to write down the sequential steps to make a PB&J sandwich, and then we had to follow the steps to see if they were right. A robot will do whatever it is programmed to do, so however the directions were written is how I made the PBJ sandwich.

After I put students in a logical mindset, we began experimenting with Lego Mindstorm EV3 Robotics. The Lego Mindstorm Robotics are essentially Lego’s you can build with a brain you can program to complete tasks, or you can control it using an app on a phone or tablet. I start the students off by having them build the basic robot that comes in the kit. I then teach them basic programming by having them compete basic challenges such as the Syracuse Sprints that we demonstrated at the Board of Education meeting, so that they can experiment with the programming and actual movement of the robot. After all the basic stuff, I then go into some more intricate challenges where students have to either redesign or reprogram their robots to compete against the other teams in the class. These more advanced Lego challenges force the students to not only program and operate their robot, but to also design and engineer a robot that can function efficiently with a goal of beating all the other teams in the class. There are also various strategies that can be used to complete each competition, so there is a strategic factor students must think about too.

After about 8-10 weeks of Lego Robotics, I then move onto VEX Robotics for approximately 10-15 weeks. VEX Robotics are way more advanced and intricate compared to Lego Robotics. The VEX Parts are composed of metal pieces of different sizes, nuts, bolts, gears, belts, different types of motors, chains, belts, and realistic programming languages. Students start out by building the robot that comes with the kits - the VEX Clawbot, which was seen at the meeting. it takes a team of 2-3 students about 5-7 days or so to follow the directions and build the VEX Clawbot (takes about 3-4 for the basic Lego Robot). I then teach the students how to program using the RobotC language so that they can program their controllers to interact with their robots. After a couple activities with the Clawbot, we move on to more advanced challenges that require a lot more engineering based solutions and heavier programming. Where students would spend 2 weeks on a Lego Robotics Competition, they would spend 4 weeks preparing for a VEX competition.

Overall, my main goals of the Robotics class are to get students thinking logically, introduce them to robotics, give them experience with programming, further develop their cognitive abilities and problem solving skills, and especially have fun while doing all of that.
The two students that helped me at the Board demonstration were Pat Schwartz and Austin Theodoroff. I would also like to thank and give credit to Lucas Davy, who programmed all the robots for the demonstrations at the board meeting.
 
Note: On April 18, Mr. Oetinger took his Robotics students to the SUNY Broome Robotics Challenge. There were over 10 other schools there, and up to 30 teams in some of the competitions. How did SV do?

1st Place - Nick Giles - Line Follow Challenge; 1st Place - Griffin McMahon - Autonomous Challenge; 2nd Place - Connor Gorman, Audrey Howell, Justin Rosenkrans - Swept Away; Honorable Mentions: 3rd Place - Nick Miller - Swept Away; 4th Place - Kyle Secord - Swept Away; 3rd Place - Line Follow - Lucas Davy. COMPETITION PICTURES ARE HERE
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Susquehanna Valley Central School District - 1040 Conklin Rd. Conklin, New York 13748 - (607) 775-0170

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