Old Colony robotics team inspires Mattapoisett students

Oct 26, 2018

MATTAPOISETT — Lisa Lourenco, Mattapoisett Schools' Technology Teacher, hosted the robotics delegation arrived from Old Colony Vocational Technical High School in her Tech Education class on Oct. 24. The sixth-graders were excited to see what the older students could do with LEGO robots. 

The visit began at 8:45 a.m. with an introduction by sophomore, Austin DeSousa, who explained the OC team's projects. The presentation was led by students of the Vex team, which is advised by OC Electronic Engineering Technologies educator, Daniel Brush.

The ORCVTHS sophomores moved easily through the throng, answering questions, handing over controllers and helping the class understand that robots don't always function exactly the way they're designed but that's something they tackle with every new project as part of the building process.

Need to solve a Rubik’s cube but don’t have time to do it yourself? Hand it over to the LEGO robot built and programmed by one of Brush’s teams. Austin provided some background. “We’ve been working on it since last year. Assembly only took a day or two but we’ve made lots of modifications.”

The team programmed “Mindcub3r” by customizing open-source software selected from programs available on the internet. "We had to make some adjustments and do some tweaking to get everything working just right," said Chris Lambert, who also worked on the Mindcub3r.

The boys working on Mindcub3r would like to continue studying engineering. Jared Boren is interested in music engineering/production.

Leandra Stroud-Jackson programmed her wheeled robot to navigate a course using a carefully-planned series of turns. "It's a program that counts and measures as it moves,” she explained. “Right now, I only have between 410 and 420 degrees of rotation on the outside wheel to initiate a ninety degree turn so I think I'll need to do a little more work to get it just right." 

Isabella Mauradian's robot (named "Rebel") attracted a crowd, as sixth graders moved black-colored cards around the floor and watched the LEGO device roll, stop and change direction as Rebel's sensors responded.

Mauradian has been learning engineering in Brush's class since she was a freshman and is very happy to have Stroud-Jackson as a classmate. "Leandra just started with us but she caught on really fast!"

Mauradian has big plans, too, and explains,“ I would like to study electronics and engineering and just see where it takes me.”

Stroud-Jackson makes another point which is clearly appealing to these pragmatic kids, “Women are needed in this field and they can make a lot of money!”

Old Colony students alternate their class schedules, spending 2 weeks on "shop" and 2 weeks on academics. Brush’s “Vex” robotics group meets every other Tuesday after school until about 8 p.m.

“My school day starts at 7:30 a.m., so those are long days but its great,” Brush said, “We order pizza and we get a lot done.” 

The team will have regional robotics competitions in December and March.