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FHS Robotics Team Reaches Semi-Finals in District Competition; Program Inspires Robotics Course for Fall 2016

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The Franklin High School Robotics Team recently competed in several events. Photo: FHS Robotics Team.

By Tarun Ravi.
Junior, Franklin High School & Franklin Warrior Staff.

Pulleys, levers, wires, and circuit boards. Ingenuity, imagination, innovation and tenacity. Within the four walls of a science classroom lies the future. The latest innovation. The next generation. But I’m not talking about the machines. I’m talking about people behind them. The FHS Robotics Club.

From March 4-6, the FHS Robotics club competed in the Mt. Olive Robotics event in a game called “Stronghold,” in which the objective was to get the robots past a series of obstacles to breach a castle. The team ended up going all the way to the semi-finals in the event. The team also competed in the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional High School event on April 1-3.

The FHS Robotics Club, FIRST Team 639, is a part of an organization called FIRST Robotics, which stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. FIRST is a non-profit organization that hosts competitions and seek to inspire the new generation of students to do things they didn’t know were possible. The competitions are revealed in January during “kickoff.” Teams learn about the new game rules and specific required designs are made available. From there teams have six weeks to build their robots.

“During building season it’s intense,” said FHS Science teacher Elizabeth Eibling, one of the club advisors. “Kids have a lot of fun. It’s challenging and many make deep, enduring friendships.”

The FHS Robotics Club is led by two teachers in the science department, Eibling and Jeffery Goett. The heart of the club lies in the students, the brilliant young minds of FHS today, who are soon to be people shaping the future tomorrow.

How does the team then accomplish the challenging task of completing the robot? By using the good ol’ divide and conquer technique.

“We’re divided into programming, mechanical and electrical. Generally we split up into teams and with our design and work on certain parts of the robot’s design,” said Forrest Smith, senior member of the club. “Programming makes autonomous scripts for the start of the match and also makes controls. Mechanical works on the physical metal and wood structure. And the electric board is constructed by the electrical team.”

But the Robotics team doesn’t just participate in competitions. The team also gives presentations and displays their robots at the local elementary schools and Sampson G. Smith Intermediate School during science fairs. The team members work hard to evoke interest in science and robotics in the younger students.

For students interested in joining robotics, there is no prerequisite or prior knowledge needed. There’s even a pre-season for getting students prepped up for the club.

“Training season is in the fall,” Eibling explained. “Training for new students, training them in mechanical, electrical, and programming. We take kids with no knowledge base, none required.”

The success of the Robotics club has inspired the creation of a new course in the FHS curriculum. The science department is proud to announce that next year FHS’s first board approved robotics course, Robotics, will be available to students. The course teaches students in the three main aspects of robotics; mechanical, programming,electrical, and also a bit of physics. Thus honors physics is a prerequisite to take the course. Mrs.Eibling will be teaching the course.

“I like to get my elbows in the machines. I’ve always liked mechanics,” Ebling said. “I like working hands-on. I’m teaching the robotics course next year and we will be building robots to compete in that class as well.”

It’s also important to note that talking to the senior members of the robotics club shows how much these students care about the club and show it’s helped shape them for their future.

“The whole experience is made to be a fun and safe environment where students can express their interest in Robotics while building communication and team building skills while completing a task which an end product that they can be proud of,” expresses Albert Kraus, a senior of the club. “Robotics has been such an integral part of my four years,” he adds, “I am glad that I was able to share the experience with many of my friends who share the same love for engineering and science and problem solving as I do.”

And as wonderful as technology is and as stunning as these creations are, the sentimentally of the soon to depart seniors reminds of something that’s even more important: It’s not so much the machine that matters. It’s the people who create them.

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