Mauro-Sheridan students prep for state robotics competition!

Dec. 7, 2012
Abbe Smith
NHPS Director of Communications
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Students at Mauro-Sheridan Interdistrict Magnet School for Science, Technology and Communications met this week to put the final touches on their robotics projects and practice their skits before heading to the Central Connecticut State University on Sunday for the state competition.
Mauro-Sheridan won five awards at this year’s FIRST Lego League regional competition held at Hill Regional Career High School on Nov. 17. Two teams – the MASHbots and Jupiter – won “golden tickets” advancing them to the state championship on Dec. 9. Mauro-Sheridan won three additional awards – Core Values Award (team MASHBots), Research Award (team Jupiter), the John A. Buffa Award (adult mentor Stephanie Boughton).
The theme for the 2012 competition is Senior Solutions, so students explored the topic of aging and brainstormed ideas to help seniors get around, keep in touch or stay fit. Teams were tasked with researching obstacles and coming up with ways to improve the quality of life for seniors.
The competition includes a project presentation and a robot challenge. For the Senior Solutions project, students interviewed senior citizens from their families and school community to determine problems that seniors encounter.  They then researched those problems and developed a creative solution.  The solutions included an innovative eyedropper for those with limited mobility, an “app” to discover community-wide senior opportunities, Robodoggie- a robotic dog that assists with daily living, a shoe insert for those recovering from hip surgery and a television-based monitoring system. The teams presented their Senior Solutions projects in a skit format, with students acting out different roles to explain how their robotic invention would work in real life.
For the robot challenge, a Lego Mindstorms NXT robot is designed and programmed to complete tasks simulating those that seniors may encounter.  A sampling of these includes cooking, gardening, exercising, shopping, reaching for medication, quilting and bowling. 
Eighth-grade student Steven Marra, a member of team MASHbots, said he is nervous but excited for Sunday’s championship. He said the robotics club is a great experience.
“I think it’s a lot of fun to do with other kids. You learn a lot – how to program and how to build stuff,” he said.
Mauro-Sheridan math teacher Elizabeth Ferry said the competition provides important hands-on experience for the students in the field of STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
“It’s introduced them to so many different careers they could have in the STEM field,” she said. “It’s a phenomenal opportunity for them to work with robots, research a problem and try to find a solution.”
Mauro-Sheridan science teacher and robotics club advisor Susan Brown said the school has found that 30 percent of its robotics club students go to study engineering or science in college.
“There just isn’t one kid involved in robotics who doesn’t end up loving engineering and science. They have become a real force in the school,” she said.
More information on the state competition this Sunday can be found here: