Robotics team hoping for repeat performance


Nathan Whitlow describes the components of Mr. Ego to West Elementary students.

MEGAN MISNER – Hoof Prints Staff

As a child, many can remember the fascination with future technologies such as robots. For some students, building robots is what they devote most of their week to doing. There are 23 members on the robotics team. All of these members spend four hours on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday preparing for competition.

The robotics team is hoping to excel this year as they did last year. In the previous year, the team won several titles at the regional competition at Crowley’s Ridge such as the BEST award, a second place trophy in robotics, the most elegant award and the founder’s creativity award. The team also went on to compete at Fort Smith where they brought home the founder’s award. Overall, they placed ninth out of 42 teams. The team was elated since this competition had participants from at least eight states.

The students have done a lot of work preparing for the upcoming competition this Halloween. Just last Saturday, Oct. 17, the team attended “Mall Day.”  “Mall Day” is a point precisely two weeks before competition that enables each team to have an opportunity to use the game field for practice. It also allows each team to scope out the other teams’ ideas and possibly borrow some of these ideas. Contradictory to its name, “Mall Day” has usually been at different locations across Jonesboro. This year was different though. “Surprisingly, this was the first time it was actually held at the mall,” Colby Qualls, robotics team member, said.

In addition to this outing, the team continued to expand its publicity.  On Tuesday Oct. 20, four students put together a presentation for the fifth and sixth graders at the West Elementary campus. These students were Colby Qualls, Amber Rolland, Nicole Poe and Nathan Whitlow. The students spoke about the BEST Robotics program in general and also the current progress of the team in this year’s competition through the first two class periods. Each presenter had a specific category they touched on during the presentation.  While speaking, they had certain visual displays such as self-designed team t-shirts, the team’s engineering notebook from the previous year and their robot for this year, “Mr. Ego.” “Mr. Ego” is an acronym for Molecule Retrieving, Energy Gathering Operator. After the presentation, students and teachers were able to ask questions. Once all questions were answered, the curious students were able to get up close to “Mr. Ego.” The objective of this presentation was to get younger students excited in the robotics program and to hopefully recruit them in the next few years.

All of this work leads up to the Crowley’s Ridge competition this Saturday on Halloween. This year’s theme is “High Octane.” Each team must design and build a robot that can effectively retrieve resources and deposit them to form products. Chemistry plays an important role throughout the competition.  The team wins by having the highest accumulated inventory. To accomplish this, students will have to form four, different products from chemical equations.  These products are ethylene, benzene, naphtha and isooctane. These are formed from the resources such as carbon dioxide, water, energy and catalysts. Each of these resources is represented by common items such as inflated globe, tomato paste cans and tennis balls. Many more rules and regulations this year have created a competition that many members of the team have considered to be the most challenging yet.

With all this effort put forth, the team is hoping to have a successful year.  Their primary goal is to qualify for the regional competition in Fort Smith. The top two teams in the BEST competition and the two top teams in the robotics competition earn the right to attend regionals. There they compete with other teams across the U.S. This year, it is held on Dec. 4 and 5.

The team would appreciate local support at Crowley’s Ridge on Halloween. It is being held on the ASU campus during the afternoon. If anyone has questions concerning the competition or team, contact one of the two supervisors, Mr. Steve Brummett or Mrs. Deborah Olive.