Woodstock Academy, through a grant from the Woodstock Academy Foundation, added the necessary equipment to field a robotics team for the first time in January. Using the VEX robotics curriculum, teacher Peter Sumner was also able to add an advanced robotics engineering class.
“The mechanics and math really apply to engineering,” Sumner said. “(VEX) gives you a problem, and the students go from there.”
For the Connecticut VEX Competition on March 25 at Central Connecticut State University, the team designed a robot that could fold up into an 18-inch-by-18-inch box. While the robot can be controlled by a remote, part of the competition requires the team to program it to perform a specific task on its own.
Woodstock Academy senior David Paquette programmed the robot and worked the remote control at the competition. He said it basically works like a remote-controlled car.
“The initial program took about an hour to write,” said Paquette, of Woodstock. “Then there are modifications you are always making.”
The competition paired the academy with another team, and together, they played against two other robotics groups. The game involved the robot picking up balls and depositing them into cylindrical goals.
Joining Paquette on the team were M.J. Yoon, of Brooklyn, Andrew Budd, of Eastford, Michael Stuba Jr., of Canterbury, Michael Paquette, of Woodstock, and Christian Andrews, of Pomfret. Of the 35 teams competing, the academy placed second — good enough to earn a spot at the national competition.
They won’t be going this year, Sumner said.
“We’re not ready for that yet,” he said. “We’ll fundraise for it next year.”
Besides the program being in its infancy, it also is costly to travel to the national competition.
As for the hands-on learning, David Paquette, who plans to study computer engineering at Central Connecticut State University next year, said he had not worked with robotics kits before, but when he heard the school was getting them, he signed up.
“It’s just really fun,” Paquette said.
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