“In our competition we score points by putting blocks in high goals and low goals, performing a pull-up and raising a flag by using a spinning mechanism,” Slocum said. “... They make something that is challenging for experienced players, but is good for newcomers.”
Slocum said he has enjoyed working with the team because he likes the developmental process of operating a robot.
“It’s really interesting to see concepts and ideas put into play. You say ‘It’s just a pull-up,’ but that takes a lot more engineering and thought than just slapping it on there,” Slocum said.
Andrews, whose father Jim Andrews is a parent volunteer with the team, said a friend from another high school sparked his interest in robotics and competing in the FIRST Tech Challenge with the hopes of making it to regionals and then the world competition with the team.
“We got these kits about a year ago and we did little things in class, but I really wanted to go deeper,” Andrews said. “I decided, let’s start something and have some fun with it.”
Jim Andrews explained the robotics team incorporates the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics initiative, which has been a major focus of the Georgia Department of Education in recent years.
“There’s a team strategy, there’s a design element [and] a programming side. ... The whole competition is designed to explore [Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics] and through that, the students have to go through a problem-solving process, they have to go through a design process, they’ll do prototypes, they’ll do CAD renderings, they’ll sketch out their ideas and then ultimately they’ll learn ROBOTC [programming],” Jim Andrews said. “They’ll work with motors, they’ll work with servos — so they’re getting some really good hands-on [experience].
“It’s fun, but they’re learning on a small scale what’s out there in industry.”
CHS Principal Steven Butler said while the high school facilitates the team by providing a work space and robot kit, the students themselves are the ones who made the team possible.
“I think this shows us where our kids minds are and I think sometimes we are limited by our own thinking of whether something can or cannot be done,” Butler said. “... Kids are so far advanced in a lot of ways with technology and with their interest there that sometimes we just need to take the handcuffs off them and let them go and I think this is a good example of that.
“They arrange the meetings, they do everything and we have some parent volunteers with a technology background to support us through the process.”
Beginning fall 2013, 100 Black Men of Rome-Northwest Georgia began sponsoring a KEMET Robotics program for Cartersville students interested in expanding their personal knowledge of modern technology while also working as a team to complete a common goal. The program also exists for elementary and middle school students.