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Watertown Robotics Team Has the Tools

Watertown Robotics Team Has the Tools

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Published by Laura Maas

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Published by: Laura Maas on Mar 25, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Watertown robotics team has the tools
Sophmore Dylan Flaherty controls a robot as junior Jeffrey Conde looks on at Watertown HighSchool on Feb. 17. Wicked Local Staff photo/Erin Prawoko
By Laura Paine / Staff Writer
 Wicked Local WatertownPosted Mar 08, 2011 @ 12:01 PMWATERTOWN — With a new room and a set of new power tools, the Watertown High Schoolrobotics team is ready to run their regional competition through the wringer.The four-year KwarQs robotics team has been working hard to complete their ring-slinging robot for the Boston Regional FIRST—For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology—RoboticsCompetition in April at Boston University’s Agganis Arena.Team advisor Alan Epstein told the Watertown TAB & Press that they got more than he expected toreceive for the team and students are able to work with the new table, miter and ban saws as well as adrill press and grinding wheel behind a sound-proof curtain in the back of the classroom.“We’ve got basically everything we need except a lathe and a milling machine, but those are kind of high-end,” Epstein said. “This is about twice as large as the last room. The disadvantage is that at the oldplace we had access to a machine shop and a gymnasium so we could run around, test out the robot andwe had plenty of room to eat and everything else.”But he isn’t complaining—the team is happy to “spill out into the hall” to test their robots, like lastyear’s soccer ball kicking ‘bot that won the Boston Beantown Blitz at Northeastern University and madethe quarter finals at the Boston Regional FIRST Robotics Competition.Sophomore Dylan Palmer said that the team isn’t focused primarily on winning like high schoolsports teams are.“It’s the idea of the meeting of the minds, the place where people go not only to compete,” Palmer told the Watertown TAB & Press. “It’s secondary to having fun and showing off your work. There’s not alot of places these days in this culture that you can feel free to express yourself without being ridiculedfor something or another.”This year the team is charged with building a robot that can pick up inner tubes that are shaped likethe pieces of the FIRST logo, in honor of the organization’s 20
anniversary, and arrange them on threelevels of pegs.“We wanted something sturdy and something that went all the way to the second peg post so we canget as much points as we can,” sophomore Arda Cam said of the design of the robot’s arm. “We hadanother project called vex [that] had the grabbing effect.”The team is also working on a minibot that will race up a pole against three other minibots to competefor an extra 30 points.Rose Fristrom, a senior, worked with Cam and other students on the arm of the robot and she said ithas been a fun and unique learning experience.“I know how to use a drill press,” Fristrom told the Watertown TAB & Press. “How many girls knowhow to use a drill press? I used to be afraid of power tools and I’m not anymore. I joined because it’s aguy thing and I’ve always done that. I felt like I could do something unique and I learn stuff. It’s fun.”Maeve McCluskey, a junior, said she got involved because of all the fun Fristrom was having. Sheworks on programming the robot to make it move but writing, testing and re-writing code.“It’s a lot of fun because I really like engineering, robotics and all that fun sciencey stuff,”McCluskey said. “It’s a really good community. When you go to competition, even if you don’t knowanyone there, it feels really connected and it’s a lot of fun and you’re all cheering each other on.”Epstein said it is also a good way for students to get real world experience and have the chance totackle learning in a more hands-on way than is usually found in the classroom. Students have theopportunity to step outside the box and try out marketing, publicity and public speaking.1

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