CCHS Robotics offers unique opportunities

Published 8:59 am Friday, September 1, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Chilton County High School students are putting knowledge into action through robotics.

“Robotics is an introduction to mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer programming, physics, math and writing all in one course,” Teacher Jay LeCroy said.

Robotics is offered in two classes. Each class is divided into teams to build robots. From these students, those who are interested and do well enough in the class will be chosen to participate in the Tiger Robotics competitive team.

Students are learning to write computer code as they work toward the day they will program their robot, rather than controlling its movements through a joystick, similar to a videogame controller.

Students have completed their first robot. At this stage, a controller is attached to the robot with a USB cord.

“This is the basic model. They will tear this down and rebuild another, and it will keep getting bigger and bigger,” LeCroy said.

Tiger Robotics president Riley Locke said he enjoyed the opportunity to work with different types of technology and build on his STEM knowledge.

“It’s less about following step by step instructions, and it is more about — make something that will solve this problem, and that’s what I love most about it,” student Jordan Johnson said.

Student Anna Smith said she saw the class as an opportunity to explore a new subject and apply what she had learned in some of her math and science classes.

“(It’s) new and interesting and it is more hands-on. I love hands-on stuff,” Smith said.

She said this is her first time doing anything related to robotics.

Student Clayton Collum said he enjoyed “the atmosphere of the class. If you want to build something you can.”

“The lack of structure gives us room to really grow,” Collum said.

He said having a limited number of parts available forces them to be innovative.

“They are given challenges, but they are given the freedom to create anything they want to create,” LeCroy said.

Students have had to work through problems with their designs.

“When we put the wheel on the back, it originally did not spin at all, so we had to take that all apart and move it,” Johnson said.

The slight modification of moving the wheel over one square on the metal support piece fixed the problem.

Students will put their robots to the test by navigating a maze in order to learn how to control it. Clayton said the left side of the controller moves the left half of the robot and, the right side of the controller moves the right.

“By the end of the course, they should be able to build a machine and be able to program it and it work without them,” LeCroy said.

LeCroy said the robots will be programmed to navigate a maze and pick something up.

“This class is not just for college-bound students because the technical side is needed in mechanics and technicians on the industry floor,” LeCroy said.

The Tiger Robotics team will build it first competition robot from Sept. 14 to Oct. 27. Students will compete at Auburn University on Oct. 28. LeCroy said this robot will be built off campus due to space limitations. For future builds, LeCroy is looking for space the team could use off campus that is convenient to campus and has enough parking for the students.

The robotics team is a sponsorship with 4-H. Jo Walter, 4-H Foundation Agent, said this gives the team all the benefits of 4-H membership. 4-H is also providing T-shirts for the team and may help fund transportation if needed.

Donation to the Tiger Robotics Club or any other 4-H Club can be made through the 4-H Club Foundation or the Chilton County Extension office.