Plymouth High School Robotics Competition

Skill Pit

Skill Pit

Because of my position on the Marshall County Community Foundation (MCCF) Grants Committee, I was fortunate enough to see the beginnings of the Robotics Club at Plymouth High School. I knew Principal Jim Condon as a fellow Marshall County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) Board Member. He introduced me to Josh Kuhn and Kennedy Schneider, two Plymouth High School students who, without the knowledge of the school, entered and won the State Vex Robotics Competition. (I found this article discussing the original team in the South Bend Tribune.  I’ve embedded a link to them winning the State Championship below.) The School then helped them move on to the World competition in California. The school then applied for a grant from MCCF to start a formal robotics club the following year. I vetted the school’s grant application for a robotics program and was pleased to champion it with the MCCF Grants Committee.  MCCF awarded them a significant grant to begin the program.

Competition Pit

Competition Pit

Coming full circle, Principal Condon told me last Friday that three years after that start-up, Plymouth High School’s Robotics Club would be hosting a northern Indiana competition on Saturday and would be fielding six teams. The event ran from 9 until 4. Due to other commitments I could only go for the afternoon. Becky and I got there about 1:30 and as it turned out, that was about right as we were in time for the to see the team selection process and the beginning of the elimination rounds.

Principal Condon was kind enough to take a few minutes to sit with us and update me on the status of the program as well as tell us a little about what we were seeing.  The teams were ranked and then through a school yard pick, divided up into teams of three.  The teams then competed head to head for two out of three wins in competition matches to advance to  the finals.

I don’t think I could do justice to a description of the competition here. Suffice it to say it was a combination of driving skill, defense, ball collection and ball shooting skill as they collected balls around the arena and attempted to get them into the goal net. The robots shot the balls using impellers, catapults and paddles. The students were given specifications and a parts list they could use last summer and then they spent months developing CAD models of their robots. They are required to provide a detailed manual describing the design process and the construction process which is part of the judging process. At competitions they are judged on not only their competence in the arena, but on style and presentation.

I’m probably unjustified in being proud of the very small part I played in helping with this. But seeing the enthusiasm of the kids and the obvious pride they have in their efforts was heartwarming.  I’ll have no problem going back to MCCF and telling them that the grant money invested in the program was well spent.

 

 

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