Robots Playing Frisbee

As I walked down the hall at Science Leadership Academy (SLA) on Friday morning in Philadelphia, a little after 11 a.m., I saw a group of students gathered around this device:


It’s a robot.  For now, the students are working on making it shoot confetti out of that tube in the front.  Eventually, the pressure that shoots the confetti out will be used to power the arms that will soon be added to the robot.

I talked with Matthew Ginnetti and Winston Wright, two seniors at SLA (Winston gave me a tour of SLA last year and we remembered each other).  They explained to me that they are making the robot as part of their engineering class.

They’ve started a robotics club and have entered a nation-wide competition where students compete to design a robot that will — wait for it — throw a Frisbee at a target and also climb a jungle-gym structure.  The competition is called Ultimate Ascent, and the completed robot is due on February 20.

These students are hard at work, in the hallway, programming in Java, tinkering with the components of the robot:


They’re working with engineers at Drexel University, which is also in Philadelphia, about 10 blocks away.  If I understand correctly, the students put their robot in a car and drive it up to Drexel every now and then for some engineering pointers.

What a great example of an authentic project and a collaboration with a local university.  I love EduCon and SLA.


About Steve Goldberg

I teach students at Research Triangle High School (RTHS) about US History. RTHS is a public charter school in Durham, NC, whose mission is to incubate, prove and scale innovative models of teaching and learning. The blog posts here reflect my own personal views and not those of my employer.
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