The Bot Side




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Meet the Bot Side

NPR Science Friday Blog: The Battle of the Bots 

Bot Siders got a chance to meet with Ariel Zych, with NPR's Science Friday. Read about what she wrote below! 

"I recently spoke with “The Bot Side,” a high school robotics team from the Community Charter School of Cambridge, about its participation this spring in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), an international robotics competition for students grades 7-12.
The FTC event is one of four different international robotics competitions organized by the not-for-profit organization FIRST (for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). The specific FTC challenge changes each year, and students are given just a few short months between the release of the new assignment and the first competitive event to create a competent robot.

In FTC challenges, robots must complete many elaborate and difficult tasks in the time frame of just a few minutes. For this spring's event, robots earned points by performing each of the following tasks: putting plastic blocks in baskets balanced on a see-saw, pausing at the center of a bridge, hanging from a beam, crank-raising a flag, and finishing in an end-zone before time was called. (For more on how the competition worked, watch this video.)
Participants had to design their machines within certain parameters. For instance, the robot had to complete some of its tasks autonomously (without remote-control), it had to fit completely inside an 18-inch cube, and it needed to be built from scratch.

To construct their machine, The Bot Side’s older members recruited teammates, trained them, and assigned responsibilities according to experience. Like most teams, The Bot Side also had a student outreach manager (Ishrat, the only female member), who was in charge of creating promotional materials, managing the team website and external communications, and coordinating scrimmages and educational events in cooperation with other organizations.
FIRST describes robots entered in FTC challenges as being based on a “modular robot platform,” which translates to some motors, wheels, and rugged aluminum scaffolding. But the materials that participants use are a far cry from the types of snap-together kits you can buy at Toys-R-Us—there are no instructions for assembly, and most teams end up adding their own specialized components. “Most people have this idea that you get a kit, and then you start,” said Neal Landry, The Bot Side’s mentor, but “it’s not a kit—you just go.”

The Bot Side members fabricated their own specialty parts, wrote their own lines of code for autonomous behavior, read and interpreted extensive competition rulebooks, troubleshot required competition hardware components, and even solicited funders to back the purchase of practice arenas and additional hardware.

Even the slightest tweak in the design of a robot’s physical features or code can have a large effect on the points earned. For example, a hook that The Bot Side team installed as an afterthought enabled their bot to hang from the cross beam, giving them a last-second point boost that got them to the state competition."

Read more about what she wrote here

“The Bot Side” would make a great name for a café or a music club in Kendall Square — if it didn’t already belong to the CCSC robotics team, which is busy making a name for itself in the FIRST Tech Challenge. This is the third year The Bot Side has competed in the FTC, and the 13 team members are aiming to do even better than 2012, when as rookies they won the Connect Award (for best outreach) at both the Arlington qualifying event and the FTC state competition.


FTC engages middle and high school students in head-to-head competitions with robots they design and build from scratch. At the start of the season, every team receives the same set of parts, but the kit does not include instructions; that’s where the creativity and the challenge come in, because the robots have to be assembled and programmed to play a game with complex rules, and it’s a different game each year. Last year CCSC’s robot was named “Michaelangelo” and the game was called “Ring It Up!.” This year, Galileo will be competing in “Block Party,” which involves placing plastic blocks in a balance in a 12’ x 12’ area. The robots compete in paired “alliances” and are allotted only 2 minutes and 30 seconds to place as many rings as possible (some with different weights) on the rack (see complete rules).

Michelangelo has been tested and debugged in scrimmages and exhibitions at the MIT Museum and the Boston Children’s Museum and at an earlier qualifying event at Boston University, and is now ready for the final state qualifying event on Saturday, March 2, at Lexington High School. Teams from about two dozen other schools will be facing off in the competition, which starts at 10:15 AM and runs until 5 PM (see full schedule).


Learn more about FTC in this short video in which three members of The Bot Side are interviewed. (Look for them at the :54sec., and 2:00min. and 3:00min. marks.)

 

 

 

 




The Bot Side (FTC Team 5397):


Ishrat Aishee ’16
Arnav Chatterjee ’15
Gaurav Chatterjee ’14
Sam Clark ’14
Stephen Felix ’14
Domonique Griffin ’16
Biondy Lisieux ’14
Masroque Musa ’15
Tristan Pepin ’15
Wilson Recio ’14
Ranjan Regmi ’17
Mehrat Tadesse ’14


Coaches: David Scott and Neal Landry

Thank you to our corporate sponsors: Akamai

CCSC Robotics Headed To State Tournament

CAMBRIDGE_  Community Charter School of Cambridge’s robotics team has been invited to participate in the Massachusetts state tournament on March 10th at Andover High School. CCSC will be one of just 24 teams competing for a chance to advance to the World Championships in St. Louis, Missouri.

“This is huge for a new team,” said Corrine Kielbasa, CCSC’s science chair and staff advisor to the program. “Our students are thrilled.” 

In just its first year, CCSC’s robotics team has spent its inaugural season traveling to other schools and regional events to compete in a variety of robotic challenges. The team won the Connect Award and garnered a third place Inspire Award this year and placed 5th at the Massachusetts High Tech Challenge at Arlington High School on January 21.

Tenth grade student Biondy Lisieux says the science and technology work is challenging and fun, but he enjoys the camaraderie most. “I’ve met some great people who like the same things I do,” he said. “That makes it fun.”

Renee Sullivan, of PTC, Jesse Moskowitz of VISTA-MA (http://www.usfirst.org/ ), Carl Morrissey of Vecna (http://www.vecna.com), and Mark Long Jr., a sophomore at Northeastern University have served as mentors for the dozen CCSC students who make up the robotics team.

“It's incredibly energizing to see students sit together and talk through problems, sometimes near the point of arguing because both sides are so passionate about their point of view,” said Renee Sullivan. “I believe after school programs are tremendously important for students, especially ones like robotics. They give the students an opportunity to apply the skills they learn in class to practical, real-world problems.”

Founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology, FIRST is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit public charity that designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.

CCSC’s program is made possible with generous grants from Akamai (www.akamai.com), PTC, and FIRST.

Charter School Robotics Team in control of 'da Vinci' project

Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, a group of 10 meets in lab space in the heart of Kendall Square and, using collective expertise in hardware, software and outreach, works on a project called “da Vinci.”

And every member of the group hopes “da Vinci” crushes its competition.

The “da Vinci,” of course, is a robot, and the group of 12 building it is the Community Charter School of Cambridge’s inaugural Robotics First Tech Challenge team. “We named our robot ‘da Vinci’  because da Vinci is credited with the first tank designs,” said Tristan Pepin, a 10th-grader and one of several project leaders on the team.

Founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, First is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity that designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math while building self-confidence, knowledge and life skills.

“It’s incredibly energizing to see students sit together and talk through problems, sometimes near the point of arguing because both sides are so passionate about their point of view,” said Renee Sullivan, one of the group’s mentors. “I believe after-school programs are tremendously important for students, especially ones like robotics. They give the students an opportunity to apply the skills they learn in class to practical, real-world problems. So, since my company, PTC, has such a huge involvement in First, starting a high school First Tech Challenge team made a lot of sense.”

The team travels to other schools and statewide events to compete in a variety of robotic challenges. In addition to Sullivan, the group’s mentors include school science chair Corinne Kielbasa, Carl Morrissey of Vecna, Mark Long Jr., a freshman at Northeastern University, and Jesse Moskowitz of Vista-MA.

“As an Americorps Vista for the year, one of my responsibilities is to start and support First Robotics teams in Boston,” Moskowitz said. “CCSC has been one of the highlights. The students at CCSC have shown an incredible work ethic and rigor towards their building their robot. The respect they show to each other, and to their school, is really special. During competitions, they’ve exhibited a lot of resolve and a great sense of humor.”

The school’s program is made possible with grants from Akamai, PTC and FIRST.

Tenth-grader Biondy Lisieux says the science and technology work is challenging and fun, but he enjoys the camaraderie most. “I’ve met some great people who like the same things I do,” he said. “That makes it fun.”

For information about CCSC, click here.