Robotics Education & Competition Foundation
Inspiring students, one robot at a time.

girl power 183z


Entry ID #: 3900
Created: Wed, Jan 11, 2017 7:50 PM

Girl Powered             My name is Alyssa Magaha and I am a part of the Synobotz 183Z high school team.  On my team, there are three other members; Nolan Hintze, William Hoke, and Chris Scott.  Synobotz has two other teams, 183A and 183X.  Those teams are both Middle School teams.  In the whole club, I am the only girl that participates in robotics.  Through my years of doing robotics, I have learned to persevere through challenges, find new solutions, and not let anything stop me from accomplishing my goals.             I started robotics when I was nine years old.  I had grown up with a strong interest in the STEM field.  I began my robotics career in fourth grade when I joined a Lego Robotics club.  I continued with Lego Robotics for three more years.  After doing Lego for a while, I decided to try something different and I competed in the Johns Hopkins Robo Challenge.  For the JHU competition, you could enter the different challenges solo, so I created my own robot for the competition.  I entered challenges from trying to get a robot through a mystery maze to creating an innovative application for a robot.  Through my years of participating in the competitions, I won many different awards.  These competitions have helped me become more experienced in robotics through building and programming robots.  After competing in the JHU Robo Challenge for three years, I started my career in VEX robotics.              I joined my first VEX robotics team during the 2015-16 season.  I was a part of the Carroll County 4H program with the Super Sonic Sparks team.  When I joined, I was put on team 24A with two other members who were both seniors.  They both had prior experience with VEX and helped me learn a lot about it.  They taught me how to build and how to program.  They helped me have a great learning experience.  We created strong friendships and a great team dynamic.  We ended up undefeated at the Maryland State Championship and went to the World’s Competition.  Since my team members graduated and went to college, I no longer had anyone for a team.  So I switched teams and joined Synobotz.              So far, this year has been a great experience.  Although I was joining a team with all guys, it didn’t stop me from wanting to continue with robotics.  I learned that I could only give my best to the team and try my hardest.  Coming from an all girls school, I had learned to embrace my strengths, improve my weaknesses, and not let anything keep me from achieving my goals.  I learned to stand up for my ideas and not let my thoughts just be thoughts.  I was ready to come together with the team and give a strong start to the year.              When we first met, we all got together and discussed the challenge and the game rules for this year.  We discussed different strategies that we would like to use throughout competitions and different robot designs that could help us achieve our goals.  We were all equally contributing ideas and accepting of others.  We thought of a bunch of different drive designs and put them all in the notebook.  Along with sketches of the designs, we wrote down pros and cons of all the different designs so that we could easily pick a design that would be best for the game this year.  After going over drive designs, we went through the same process for scoring and hanging ideas.  Once we got all of our ideas down in the notebook, we then picked one from each section and created an idea of what we wanted our robot to be like.  Our first prototype would have an X-Drive, a bucket that would catapult the objects to the other side, and a hook on the bucket to hang.              As soon as we agreed on a design we kicked right into building and programming.  We took everyone’s strengths and assigned them roles for the team.  I had the most experience with programming so I became the lead programmer for the team.  Chris would be in charge of making CADs for the robot and would help with building.  The others were also builders and would be the drivers.  We laid out how many meetings we had until the first competition and we set goals for each meeting in order to get the robot done in time and have enough time for drive practice.  We also planned some extra time in case we fall behind schedule.  As I worked on programming, Chris used a CAD he made of the X-Drive to help the rest of the team build the drive correctly.  Every piece of metal needed to be an exact measurement and each piece had to be at a certain angle for the X-Drive to work correctly.  With four people on the team, we realized that for everyone to be productive, only three people could really work on building the robot at a time.  If we all worked at the same time, we would often get in each other’s way and we worked at different paces.  With only three or less people working on the robot, everything would get done in a more efficient time.  I would often work on programming during the meetings and if one of the team members could not make it that day, I would help building.  We entered our first competition with a bucket on our robot that would dump the scoring objects over the fence.  Our bucket had a back made of plexiglass and we used standoffs as our scoop.  To fit within the size restrictions, we needed to create a bucket lock that would keep our bucket folded up until the beginning of the match.  We had used all of our motors so we needed to think of a design that could be used without motors.  Everyone brainstormed a range of ideas from rubber bands to hinges, yet we somehow could not figure out a way to keep the bucket folded.  After brainstorming in between meetings, we finally came up with the idea of creating our own hinge out of plates.  We bent the plate so that it was in an upside down “U” shape.  There would also be another plate that would be inside of it that when the bucket was folded up, it would not deploy; but, when the robot moved, the hinge would release the bucket and it would unfold.  The hinge not only helped our bucket stay folded, but it also served as a side to hold objects inside the bucket.  In our first competition, we could easily pick up the scoring objects, including the cubes, and we could score them in the high zone.  Although this design worked well for us, we decided to redesign to a grabber robot.  This robot is similar to a claw robot, but instead of using a curved claw, we used c-channel for grabbing objects.  We had rubber bands stretched from the ends the c-channel to the center of the arm to create tension and make it easier to keep the objects in our claw while scoring.  While this design helped us score objects on the field faster and in a more efficient manner, this design also allowed us to hang.  We had a standoff in the middle of where our grabber connects to our arm as a way to hook onto the pole when we extend our arm all the way back.  Once our arm is hooked, we would drive our robot and make it do a curl up and lock into place.  This then lifts our base and allows us to high hang.  This year so far has been a great experience.  I have learned new things such as using different sensors and features I had never used before.  Everyone gets along well on the team and we all work together.  I am excited for the new challenges we will face in the future and the memories we will create as a team.  The year has made me strive to learn more and continue my career in STEM.  I encourage all girls to get more involved in robotics and technology so that they can have the chance to learn as much as I have through STEM. 


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