Read how Teams 4125, 3192 & 955 are using Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) as they build this year’s robots:
It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through the build season. It seems like just yesterday we were watching the kick off videos. Nevertheless, we have been hard at work on the robot. Though we have encountered some problems (as expected), it was nothing putting our heads together couldn’t solve.
For example: The programming team (our equivalent of a Mechanical team) had encountered some problem with the robot prototype. The hooks, which we were hoping to use to climb the pyramid, weren’t working quite the way the design team had anticipated. After reassessing the problems and changing the positions of the hooks, it was decided that in order to completely be satisfied with the outcome, a different approach was necessary. The hooks will be one of the last things to go onto the robot. In this example the team went through the scientific method (several times) to search for a solution.
Our build team was also having some trouble. While attempting to make the prototype, they were having problems with their dimensions. They used their mathematics skill to go back and reconfigure them and ultimately their problem was solved. Engineering was also a key factor in the solutions of both of these problems
Academics are very important to the TigerBytes. We just had finals this week, so we took a brief break from robot-building to focus on our classes. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) have all helped us in solving this year’s challenge. Mathematics has been especially important this year. We used trigonometry to figure out the heights on the pyramid that we have to climb. We also use math to figure out the optimum gear ratios that we need for our robot. Engineering is of course at the core of our design process. This year we are using Google SketchUp to design our robot and flesh out neat ideas. Physics is the science that really drives our team. We use concepts such as torque and friction to make building our robot easier and more effective. Specific technologies have been useful to us, for example we use mecanum wheels on our robot.
As we move into the third week of the build season, the main problem Team 955 is facing is with our Frisbee launcher. The launcher’s current design lacks the speed necessary to propel the Frisbee the distance needed for it to reach the goals. Experiments have been kicked off with different angles to position the shooter to gain more distance, showing that the higher the angle, the farther the Frisbee goes… to a point. If the angle of the shooter is too steep the Frisbee will not get the distance we need to make the shot, there is a pocket of air that creates drag under the Frisbee and stops it in mid-flight.
To solve this problem our team used the aerodynamics of the Frisbees and employed physics to calculate the starting position, velocity, and speed of the shooter to determine how the Frisbee will fly. Using an Excel sheet we mapped out the possible flight paths of the Frisbee depending on the angle, radius of the wheel in the shooting mechanism, and turning speed of the shooting mechanism. Using technology and math, we determined the best possible angle to use for our launcher.
The steps we took to solving the problem with the Frisbee launcher was not only a good example of how we further the education of mathematics and sciences for our students but also of how our students are learning important problem solving skills for college or the workforce.