This past week, the topic that I would like to respond to is robotics. I went to a high school called California Academy of Math & Science (CAMS) and, as the name suggests, it focused on STEM education. Wilson states that research institutes and labs have been formed to explore the applications that robotics can do in the practical world. (Wilson 372) From my own experience in high school, robotic research has already been integrated into the curriculum and activities of well-funded, magnet high schools. Although it was not compulsory, CAMS offered classes in robotics as well as an extra-curricular Robotics Club.
We participated in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), which is an international high school robotics competition. The competition requires the teams to create robots that does simple tasks of a game such as scoring balls into goals, frisbees into goals, tubes into racks, hanging on bars, balancing robots on balance beams, etc. Each year the games are different to level the playing field and each team is given a standard set of parts by FIRST. The following video shows an example of the 2014 games.
FIRST, shorthand for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” operates multiple robotics competition such as FIRST LEGO League, LEGO technology similar to the Robotics Discovery Set in the book. (Wilson 372) In 2014, FRC had 68,000 students and 16,000 mentors building robots from 17 different countries. These competition continues to grow every year since it is appealing to more and more high schools around the world since there is a global thinking that the future lies in technology, robotics, and STEM education.
The competitions doesn’t only advertise the creation of robots and the fun, creative process it takes to build it, there are values that FIRST tries to foster between the members. It encourage a professional way of working in teams, especially my high school had mentors in various fields of engineering. It embraced competition between the teams during events and a sense of community that surrounding robotics. It also brought cooperation between the teams because most of the games consisted of at least three different robots playing as one team.
At these competitions, there are roboticists that attend to judge the design of the robots and see if the team’s robot offers an innovation to robot technology. FIRST even modeled a curriculum for the Engineering Department of CAMS that they can use to teach students, which further encourage the participation in robotics.
Robotics competition might seem fun and a great introduction to robotics for high school students, but they are one source of research for the technology. Robots have advance so much and is part of our daily life that they have become mundane objects that is suppose to help humans. However, we as human beings constantly push for further progress in robotics to see how far we can advance in society. Lastly, design of robots is also important to the creator because no one would build something that is aesthetically pleasing. As seen in the photos above, these robots have at least some symmetry and fractal arrangements that makes the robots not just a piece of machinery, but also a work of art.
– Oneil Leif Parrilla