The Robo Rangers robot, which features a ball-throwing mechanism, was available for guests to test drive Tuesday during the team’s open house.

Archived Story

Robo Rangers build for future

Published 10:12am Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ross Beatty Junior/Senior High School students got their first taste of the robotics world.
After a six-week build season in which they constructed a wirelessly operated robot from scratch, the team of 18 students competed against other schools in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science Technology (FIRST) organization games. With the help of co-advisers at the high school, an engineering mentor and the Niles High School robotics team serving as mentors, the Robo Rangers plan to come back for seconds next year.
“We attended the kick-off ceremony in January,” Paul Chapman, team adviser and advanced mathematics teacher, said. “We received our kit of parts and that day, we had kids sitting in the backseat on the car ride home planning out what we could build.”
Chapman said the first order of business after that day was to figure out the game and how to play it. From there, the type of robot they would need to build would emerge.
“It was waves of intimidation,” Chapman said. “One minute it was ‘oh no, we can’t do this,’ and then the next it was, ‘OK, this is doable.’”
Mentoring engineer Fritz Kucklick got on board and began helping with some of the details. Beyond having simple instructions to build the chassis, or frame, of the robot from their kit of parts, they were on their own.
“We went from having students not know what a wrench was to computer programming the robot,” Chapman said. “They learned so much in that short amount of time.”
Because each student on the team was involved hands-on, even the Robo Rangers mascot received a few upgrades.
“We had a robot of cardboard and tin foil, but it would get really hot inside to the point where we were switching out kids to wear it,” Chapman said.
After some quick brainstorming, students installed leftover computer fans for more comfort and even added battery-operated LED lights for effect.
“By that point, when we came up with an idea, it wasn’t a matter of asking,” Chapman said. “We have kids now who just say, ‘yeah, I can do that.’”
Dylan Sears, a graduating senior, was happy to have even one year on the school’s robotics team; it was enough to have him pursue future robotic competitions in college in the fall.
“Once the coaches mentioned it, I was onboard from day one,” said Sears, who will be attending the University of Advanced Technology in Tempe, Ariz.
Sophomore Thomas Bosler said he’s excited for next year’s season, which the group has already started brainstorming fundraising ideas for.
“We’re looking into getting sponsorships and setting up our base,” Bosler said. “It’s a group effort for sure.”

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