Robotics Club Takes Botball and Botfest

On Saturday, March 28, the Hanover High School Robotics team participated in both the Botball Tournament and Botfest Exhibition at UMass Lowell.  Seniors David Raab and Nick Ricciarelli and freshman Spencer Kubicki represented the team at the Botball tournament.  At Botfest, a robotics exhibition, sophomore Matt Blanchard displayed his prototype for a high- speed Rubik’s cube solver with the help of Nao, Hanover School District’s humanoid robot.

 Botball Tournament

Robots ready to goThe theme of this year’s tournament was mining minerals in the Southwestern United States.  The goal was to design, build, and program two autonomous robots to collect randomly scattered ‘minerals’, bring them to specific areas of the board, and sort them by color. The items were at different heights and they were various sizes, shapes and colors.  Each match lasted two minutes.  David, who will attend Rensselaer in the fall and Nick, who will attend RIT, were in the pit.  The team was able to make it through the seeding rounds and enter the double elimination match.  In the first match, Hanover’s robot “Arnie” started too soon and lost to Chelmsford High.  In the second match, Hanover defeated Innovation Academy.  The third match was lost to Veazie High School after Hanover’s robot “Maria” got thrown off course by a bump in the arena floor.

It was great to see the engineering design process at work.  Each match led to design adjustments, refining of code, and improved performance.  David and Nick quickly analyzed each situation and reacted swiftly to fix any problems and increase their chances of success.     

The final results have not been posted, but the team clearly improved since last year’s first try at Botball.  Last year, the team was eliminated after the second game and this year they weren’t eliminated until after the third game.  Most importantly, the students gained valuable skills in design, programming, engineering, time management, teamwork, refining, diagramming, strategizing and project management.  Hanover High School was also able to acquire two new robot platforms and hundreds of sensors and motors that can be used by Engineering Classes as well as the robotics team.  The software is installed in the Engineering lab for any student with an interest.  Hanover High also received complete standards- based curriculum resources to use with all engineering students.

Botfest Exhibition

Last year, for the Botfest Exhibition, Matt Blanchard created a Lego robot that could solve a Rubik’s cube.  Matt continued his quest this year and began online communication with David Gilday, the principal engineer at ARM in Cambridge, England.  Gilday is the co-creator of the world’s fastest Rubik’s cube-solving robot, “Cubestormer III.”  The “Cubestormer III” can solve the Rubik’s cube in 3.253 seconds. IMG_0104

The Rubik’s cube solution is an algorithm; therefore, a robot can be programmed to follow a specific pattern of movements to solve the cube after scanning each side and determining the original positions of the colors.  Matt began work on a prototype for his own high-speed Rubik’s cube-solving robot which he displayed at this year’s exhibition.  Matt hopes to create the fastest one in North America by the time he is a senior in high school.  Incidentally, Matt himself is also a competitive Rubik’s Cube solver; he can solve the puzzle in 18.68 seconds. 

IMG_1112

Special Thanks

  • For the second year in a row, the team received a grant from NASA and UMass Lowell’s Community Partnership Program that covered $1,700 of the fee for Botball ($2,200 total).  The fee covers all materials, robots, and tournament expenses.
  • Grants from the Hanover Foundation for Educational Enrichment ($1,800) and Walmart ($500) allowed the purchase of seven EV3 Lego robots that were used to build a prototype for a high-speed Rubik’s cube-solver for the exhibition.  The EV3 robots will be also be used in engineering courses at the high school.
  • The humanoid robot, Nao, which assisted Matt at Botfest, was purchased for the district by the PTO.

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