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Adventure Science Center Blog

Science Educators and guest authors exploring our world and the science and technology that connects us.




Testing the elements of our Spartabot before the competition.

The pits are a frenzy with last minute modifications! Here, we are trying to sort out an electrical problem on the robot.

Check out the rope climb mechanism! A custom creation built from the pieces of a boat winch!

The thrill of the competition. The challenge of problem-solving mechanical issues. The excitement of working as a team towards a goal. All of these elements are embodied in the FIRST Robotics competition for high school students.

In January, I joined Stratford High School’s robotics team, the Spartabots, as a co-mentor to help the team sort through and execute the planning and construction of their one-of-a-kind robot. These talented high schoolers started from scratch to develop unique solutions to solve this season’s challenges, such as making their robot climb a 4-foot rope and manipulating objects on the playing field, in preparation for the FIRST Robotics Competition’s 2017 Rocket City Finals in Huntsville, Alabama. Of course, no competition is complete without a last minute build crunch, so I drove down early to help get our robot to pass inspection and to practicing with game elements (check out the big yellow gear in the first photo).

For those who may not be familiar, FIRST Robotics is an international high school robotics competition that gives students a chance to design and build robots. Students gain real-world experience in engineering, coding, and, perhaps the most difficult of all, how to work as a team. Robots compete on a playing field; think a 3-minute football obstacle course.

Fifty teams from around the southeast competed in this year’s Rocket City Finals. With only one seasoned member, this competition was a brand new experience to most of the Spartabots. At times, the technical challenges were steep and developing a vision didn’t come easy. But the process introduced these budding minds to the imaginative world of the engineering process.

Although we didn’t bring home any trophies, we will be returning next season with a team full of veterans, having witnesses firsthand the limitless possibilities of what can be brought to the robotics table.

- Paul Attea, Science Educator

Posted by Molly Hornbuckle at 12:00 PM
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800 Fort Negley Blvd. Nashville, TN 37203
Hours: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
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