Goetz pupils display robotics skills in end-of-semester competition


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JACKSON – Students who took a robotics class at the Carl W. Goetz Middle School during the first semester of the 2019-20 school year were the hosts to an end-of-the-semester battling robots event on Jan. 17.

As part of the robotics course’s curriculum, the students built their own robots using motors and coding skills they learned in teacher Charles Rotunno’s class. The robotics class is in its third year as an elective for eighth-graders.

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On the day of the competition, the students showcased their designs, coding skills and creativity in a one-on-one event during which the goal was to knock the opponent’s robot out of a circle or to disable the device.

Rotunno said even though the robots were only battling for fun, there was a grading component that took into account how the students built their robots and the device’s motor control and complexity.

“Winning does not necessarily mean a good grade, and a good grade does not mean you are going to win. So today’s competition, which is an awesome fun activity, kind of builds up … and intrinsically makes the students say, ‘Oh yeah, I’m not stopping until this robot is 100%’ and in the process they are hitting all the marks in the rubric. Their grade is turning out to be higher because they are so excited about winning,” Rotunno said.

Eighth-graders Lucas Shramovich and Christian Alfano competed in the championship round. Lucas’ robot defeated Christian’s robot, which had been dominant throughout the competition.

Christian explained what the students learned during the semester.

“Basically how to beat the crap out of each other with robots, but we also learned how to build intricate designs and code more intricate designs than we usually do,” he said.

Lucas’ robot included a motor that made his opponent’s robot spin off it, and a forklift/lever tool that pushed his opponent’s robot out of the circle.

Lucas and Christian said they thought the lever tool helped their robots win their battles.

“It was more fun than I thought I would have,” Christian said, adding he would recommend the robotics course to other students. “I had a lot of fun designing (the robots) and coding, and yeah, fighting was good.”

Lucas said he, too, would recommend the robotics course, stating, “It was fun. We got to learn different architecture designs and the coding.”

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