A team of middle and high school students have been working for six weeks to build a robot that will be able to successfully navigate this year’s game, “Gatekeeper 2013.”
“It’s a computer. It’s basically an arm that moves on a trolley, and the arm has to pick up sticks and put them in different gates to create the power sources,” said CEO Kyle Allen, a junior at Cordova High School.
Blue Devil Robotics is based at Bankhead Middle School, one of only three middle schools expected to compete at Northwest-Shoals Community College on Saturday.
The majority of the 16 teams will be representing high schools or technical centers.
This is the second year that BMS has had a robotics team.
Last year, members of Blue Devil Robotics received the Perseverance Award and the admiration of a real rocket scientist for the way they continued to work together after their robot fell apart in initial attempts to complete its only assigned task.
The team walked away with several lessons learned and set their sights on success this year with their motto, “Why settle for average when you can have phenomenal?”
One of the areas where members of Blue Devil Robotics are looking to improve is their marketing presentation.
Lexi Blagburn, vice president of marketing, said part of their homework has been watching reality TV.
“They told us to watch ‘Shark Tank’ because they would ask a lot of those questions,” said Blagburn, a 10th grader at CHS.
Club sponsor Amber Parsons said last year’s team was prepared to discuss the ins and outs of their company but not their product.
The new plan is to have a working robot to demonstrate during the interview and to make their pitch memorable.
“Last year, there was one particular kid that they really loved because of his personality. So last year we went with knowledge base and who knew the stuff. This year, we’re trying to mix the knowledge base with personality,” Parsons said.
Blue Devil Robotics has plenty of personalities from which to choose.
More than 50 students are affiliated with the team. In addition to age differences, some are athletes and some work after school.
Some students have special needs and some are in the gifted program. Some contributed their web design talents and others worked hands-on with the robot.
Parsons said ensuring that every team member had a job to do was one of her goals for the year.
“We want diversity. I talked to the students about how when you get different perspectives based on different backgrouds, then that’s when you can really grow and your ideas will abound,” Parson said.
The 2013 BEST Robotics Competition will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Northwest-Shoals gymnasium. It is free to the public.
Blue Devil Robotics is hosting an open house today from 4 to 6 p.m. at BMS.