Robots take over at Isabella High

Published 5:08 pm Friday, September 18, 2009

The Isabella High School robotics team has until Oct. 10 to build a robot designed to retrieve tomato paste cans, globes, racquet balls and tennis balls — and, meanwhile, learn how to produce fuel.

On Sept. 3, members of the newly formed team, called “Up the Creek Engineering,” boarded a bus for the UAB Bartow Arena in Birmingham. The focus of the kickoff was the discovery of this year’s competition theme: “High Octane.”

Once the project is complete, the school’s team will compete against other schools in a fast-paced, strategic, chemistry-based race.

The objective will be to collect and employ common molecules, such as CO2 (carbon dioxide) and H20 (water) and essential resources (energy, catalysts) to complete a series of chemical reactions. The eventual goal is to produce isooctane, a cleaner burning and cheaper fuel than gasoline.

The robot must be designed to retrieve the aforementioned items — symbolic for energy, CO2, H2O and catalysts — in order to build a chemical equation for points.

“Our goal is to train students to be engineers,” said instructor Jay LeCroy. “We have started the first high school engineering program in Chilton County, and on top of that they’re having to learn advanced chemistry to win the competition.”

Teamwork and strategic thinking will set the winners apart in this fierce technological competition.

While visiting the UAB campus, the team was provided the raw materials and computer-programming equipment necessary for building the robot.

LeCroy said the school is still in need of donations as well as local engineers who are willing to partner with them.

The team thanked Shelton Price, Royce Hallmark and Energen Resources for their support.

Anyone wishing to get involved may visit the team’s Web site at or contact them by e-mail at