Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Robotics team advancing to States

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ImagiNeers robotics team advances to state championship

Wednesday February 4, 2015 12:57 PM

One of Dublin’s middle-school robotics teams, the ImagiNeers, has qualified for the state championship for third time in a row.

 The FLL (First Lego League) State Championship will take place at the Ervin J. Nutter Center at Wright State University on Feb. 7-8.

On Saturday Jan. 10, at the Dublin Robotics District Tournament at Jerome High School, the team scored 330 points on their robot game and finished 6th out of 32 teams.

The team won the project presentation award for their innovative solution called "Uspell." It is a prototype of a pen that can display spelling mistakes on a LCD screen.

The ImagiNeers consists of students ages 9-14 from Wyandot Elementary as well as Sells and Karrer Middle School.

The Dublin Robotics Program sponsored 19 First Lego League teams from four middle schools and 10 elementary schools at the district tournament.

At the competitions, teams are judged on two parts: the two-and-half minute robot game and their project presentation.

The robot game is played on a large table and the robot must complete as many tasks as possible to earn points. The robot is programmed using a block coding computer program, which is downloaded to the robot and then adjusted as necessary.

For example, students can program their robot to pick up a small ball, drive to a Lego soccer goal on the table and throw the ball into the goal. If the robot “scores” then the team earns 60 points.

For the project presentation, the students are asked to identify a topic they are passionate about, brainstorm a creative solution, research existing ideas, invent something new and share their idea with others.

ImagiNeers team member, Ria Singhal, 12, said that at first their presentation of their Uspell pen felt boring so in between the regional and district tournaments, they decided to change things up.

“At the district tournament, we explained our information in a fun way by making our own Jeopardy board and presented it more as a game show,” she said.

Team member and 7th grader Rithika Nidimusali enjoys making the robot run and seeing if it was accurate.

“I like the teamwork part of it. In school we do more individual work but here we can work as a team on everything and it’s super fun,” she said.

Working as a team, everyone can use their strengths to help build the best robot possible.

Sanjay Janavdhan uses his creativity and programming skills to build “really great helpful attachments” for the robot.

Abhi Manyu Singhal, a junior at Coffman, joined the club as a 7th grader. He lamented that he “missed out on three years” so now he is the ImagiNeer’s mentor and has introduced seven new robotics teams in central Ohio suburbs like Westerville and Powell.

“I mentored the teams, showed them the ropes, and taught them about programming and project research. One of the teams advanced to the district tournament so it was neat to see how excited the kids were about it.”

His efforts have earned him the “Mentor Award” at states three years in a row.

“I’m showing kids that science is cool and that they can do it too,” he said. “Robotics got me hooked on science. It showed me that science wasn’t just for those nerds who are in the lab with chemicals.”

Singhal is involved with FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition), which is the high school robotics club, and plans on studying computer programming in college.

Through being in the club, the ImagiNeers learn to help others, work as a team, manage their time, and how to use technology, said Coach Rajiv Singhal.

“Every meeting, we spend the last ten minutes talking about what we learned,” said Singhal. “We want the focus to be on discovery and having fun.”