FORT LORAMIE – Months of preparation will be tested this weekend as elementary students from the Fort Loramie Robotics Club compete at the state championships and the school’s high school team tries to qualify for state.
Fifteen Fort Loramie students in the fourth through eighth grades make up two FIRST LEGO League teams – the Thunderbots and the Circuit Breakers. The school’s FIRST Tech Challenge team is comprised of four high school sophomores.
The FIRST leagues, an acronym for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, challenge students to build, design and program robots to compete against other teams. Along with robotics competitions, teams are graded based on other criteria including robot design, creative problem solving, collaborative teamwork and community outreach.
“The kids use a lot of math and science when they build their robot and programs,” said Jenny Sherman, one of Fort Loramie’s FIRST LEGO League coaches. “They’re able to develop presentation skills, and in their project discovery they do cost analysis, they set goals, they learn that goals are achievable and measurable.”
Fort Loramie’s Thunderbots will compete this weekend in the FIRST LEGO League Ohio Championship at the Nutter Center on the campus of Wright State University. They qualified for the 60-team state competition with their performance at the Sylvania STEM Center District FIRST LEGO League Qualifier.
Also this weekend, the school’s FIRST Tech Challenge team will compete in the Van Wert Regional Robotics Competition in Van Wert. The team previously finished second in robot design and third in the Inspire Award at a regional qualifier in Dayton.
Fort Loramie has competed in FIRST competitions for four years now. The elementary students have worked on this year’s projects since early August while the high school students have worked on their project since September.
“Lots of practice, lots of practice,” sophomore Isiah Scheer said of controlling his team’s robot. “Total it’s around 600 hours for the season.”
Scheer is part of the high school team with three other sophomores – Lauren Bergman, Anna Detrick and Jacob Sherman. They competed against a team from Coldwater High School on Tuesday evening in Fort Loramie.
Utilizing a smartphone attached to their robot, Scheer and Jacob Sherman simultaneously controlled the robot as they raced against Coldwater’s team to collect and stack blocks. However, Loramie’s team hit a snag during the demonstration when part of a scissor lift on their robot broke.
“Just tonight one of those 3D printed pieces snapped in half so we got a spare piece and had to modify it a little bit and put it back on,” Jacob Sherman said. “You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, though, get it back to moving again.”
Fort Loramie’s FIRST Tech Challenge team designs and makes many of its own parts using a 3D printer.
“Making it ourselves is a lot simpler,” Detrick said.
With the 3D printer, the students can make the pieces exactly how they want them.
“It can take anywhere from like an hour to a day or two, just depending on how big it is,” Bergman said.
For their project this year, the Circuit Breakers created a renewable energy source for the Fort Loramie park. It creates energy that can be sold back to the community, which raises money for maintenance of the park.
The Thunderbots built a flood wall. It has sensors on a flag pole that detect rising water. A flood wall then rises, protecting a house.
Two years ago the Thunderbots built a water transport system that they sent to Haiti, and the system was able to create a job for an individual in Haiti.
“We’re affecting lives, not even in our community but in communities across the world,” Jenny Sherman said.
The lessons the Fort Loramie Robotics Club members learn in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and more are beneficial in the classroom and will be valuable in future careers, head coach Greg Timmerman said.
“I think FIRST is an excellent program,” he said. “It teaches them more than just STEM.
“We try to make it as fun as we can and still get work done.”
Sadie Barfell, Alexis Jacobs, Jay Puthoff, Sophia Scheer, Ethan Sherman, Whitney Timmerman, Adam Zircher, Joslyn Zircher, Megan Gigandet, Kendall Goldschmidt, Joseph Puthoff, Bode Ruhenkamp, Conner Sherman, Katie Sherman and Sophia Werner compete on Fort Loramie’s FIRST LEGO League teams.
Peggy Puthoff, Jenny Sherman, Liz Timmerman, Jeremy Barfell, Greg Timmerman and Craig Werner coach the FIRST LEGO League teams. Greg Timmerman and Brett Quinter coach the FIRST Tech Challenge team.
For more information about the FIRST robotics and competitions, visit https://www.firstinspires.org/.
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-538-4824.