Discovery Day 2014
Robbinsville High School’s technology lab opened its doors on December 6th and 7th to over one hundred excited students, grades two through six, who flocked to participate in Nemesis 2590’s annual Robotics Discovery Day. Depending on their experience and grade level, the young campers, with the assistance of Nemesis team members, created robots using either remote-controls or NXT LEGO® Mindstorms. Students were also given the opportunity to drive Nemesis’ award-winning robot Bellerophon, interact with the NAO robot, a talking and dancing robot that was a fan-favorite among the kids, and complete a challenge involving the local middle school’s FLL robot.
The younger students participated in a zip line challenge, where teams of two students and one Nemesis mentor created remote-controlled robots, designed to travel across a string and pick up supplies from the ground. The more experienced campers programmed NXT LEGO® Mindstorms robots to engage in a sumo wrestling match. Victory was achieved by using the robot’s sensors to locate the opposing robot and then push it out of the ring.
To many students, driving Bellerophon and interacting with the NAO robot was the perfect supplement to their already-entertaining day. Christian Gavalchin, the driver of the robot, taught kids how to maneuver Bellerophon into the perfect scoring angle, pointed out the button needed to release the ball, and then allowed them to send the ball soaring through the goal. Some of the students enjoyed driving the robot so much, that no sooner than they had released the ball, they had found their way to the back of the line, eager to try again. The NAO robot had the young students laughing and dancing as it performed Tai-Chi, danced the Macarena, and engaged in an intense game of Simon Says.
Overall, these tough challenges provided students with vital early experience in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), by creating an atmosphere similar to the FIRST’s (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). Nemesis delivered the young campers a challenge to complete in a predetermined amount of time, allowing each group to formulate their own unique solution to the challenge, which is exactly what happens during the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) build season.
Discovery Day proved to be a major success, provoking overwhelming gratitude from both the parents and campers who participated. Many of the students departed the high school eager for next year’s event, excited to participate once more. Robotics Discovery Day also functions as a main fundraiser for Nemesis, permitting the team to travel and compete in regional and international competitions.