Rural Missouri - April 2012 - (Page 28)

wo minutes and 10 seconds is all the time they get. An arm goes up. Swoosh! A ball goes through the hoop. Then another. Then a bumper-car-like scramble ensues as players scoop up balls, drive to the basket, bank shots and rack up points for their teams. The arena is packed with thousands of cheering fans. Team mascots roam the crowd while supporters chant and wave signs in support of their favorites. But these basketball devotees aren’t here to watch players like Lebron James or Kobe Bryant. They’re here to see a regional matchup at this year’s Rebound Rumble, a hybrid basketball game played with robots built by high school students. “We celebrate a guard that hits the 3-pointer at the buzzer, and everyone knows their name,” says Mitch Comer, industrial technology instructor for Camdenton High School. “But do we know every kid’s name that got a 34 on their ACT? Do we cheer and Programmers and drivers Kyle Gulshen, left, and Jacob Harmon, center, concentrate on driving their team’s robot during a FIRST inspire them to push beyond their Robotics regional competition in Kansas City in March. Their team adviser, Mitch Comer, keeps tabs on their efforts. limits?” Mitch is the coach for the Camdenton R-III robotics team. This is the third year the award-winning team is competing in this international robotics education program. In the late 1980s, Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway (a twowheeled personal vehicle), saw that out of 65 developed nations, the United States ranked in the lower tion. Once the project is announced, half in science and math, with fewer teams have only six weeks to build students pursuing careers in science, their robot. Then it’s “bagged and technology, engineering and math. So tagged” with a special lock and cannot in 1989, he started FIRST — For Inspibe touched until competition. ration and Recognition of Science and Mitch says the first few days after Technology — as a way to inspire kids the announcement are spent brainto choose these career paths. storming ideas. Once the teens Mitch also serves know what they want their robot as faculty adviser for to do, prototypes are made and Project Lead The Way, a theories tested. national pre-engineering The students, grades college-credit program for • nine through 12, produce students. Years ago, while Camdenton everything from the working with mentors robot’s computer-genfor that program, Mitch erated 3D design to the couldn’t help but talk about final construction. Each another dream he had. student has a job that’s integral to the “I told them I’d really like to get team’s success. involved in a robotics program. All the This year’s robot is expected to top schools in Missouri’s metropoliCamdenton’s robot, No. 3284, sinks a shot during a match at the Kansas City regional. sink as many basketballs as possible tan areas had a program, and the kids The six-week build season goes by into any of four hoops set at varied were flourishing in it,” he says. “LuckJoining forces with two other teams, quickly. Students work from 4 p.m. heights at the end of a 27-foot-by-54ily, the mentors got my vision and Camdenton won the first game of the until late in the evening after each foot court. For the first 10 seconds of said, ‘Sure, we’ll help you,’ not really best of three games before losing in school day and even longer during pre-programmed game play, robots knowing what that would entail.” the third and decisive game by one the weekends. For mentors, who run are expected to run on their own. For Mitch’s wife, Sherry, director of point to the eventual champions. the gamut from civil engineers to the remaining two minutes, humans Camdenton’s after-school services, Kyle Gulshen, a junior, thinks registered nurses, it’s like leaving one take control from behind Plexiglas writes grants to fund the district’s FIRST Robotics is phenomenal. “I full-time job for another. walls at each end of the court, aiding after-hours programs. With her help, believe this should be a model of Mitch estimates the the robot to gather balls and shoot Mitch landed several grants, and in education that’s included students and mentors baskets. Points also may be scored by the fall of 2009, FIRST Camdenton in every school’s curriculogged nearly 6,000 hours balancing a robot on any of the three 4-H LASER 3284 team was established. lum,” says the 16-yearthis year to build the small bridges that sit center court. “We were one of the first schools in old. “You’re learning this See how the robot fires robot they call the M1 Balancing by a single robot gets that rural Missouri to get a program startin the classroom, and a shot in a video in the Abrams, named after the team points, but teams who cooperate ed,” says Mitch, who’s taught for the you remember it because online edition at U.S. battle tank known also are rewarded. Camdenton district for 16 years. you’re applying it to for its accuracy. “Ultimately, it’s not about the Three years ago, he persuaded 21 life situations.” On March 1-3, the team tested its robots,” says Sherry, who’s also been students and five mentors into parrobot’s accuracy as they took part with the Camdenton school district ticipating in the program. This year, To find out how to start a FIRST in their first regional in Kansas City. 16 years. “It’s about the kids learning Mitch has 54 students involved, with robotics team at your school, contact There, they competed in 10 qualifyleadership and organization and what 30 mentors volunteering their time. Mitch at ing matches with robotics teams from FIRST calls ‘gracious professionalism.’ Each January, FIRST hosts a nationor check out across the United States. Students are encouraged and expected al kickoff, where participating schools The FIRST championship will be held After two days, the Camdenton to help each other any way they can find out what that year’s robot will be at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis on team ranked 21st out of 64 teams. so everyone succeeds.” expected to accomplish for competiApril 25-28. The event is free to attend. T by Heather Berry The Hardest Fun Ever Camdenton R-III’s ‘new, cool and afterschool’ FIRST Robotics program 28 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - April 2012

Rural Missouri - April 2012
Table of Contents
Mule memories
Squandered opportunity
Something to gobble about
Best of Rural Missouri
Hearth and Home
The hardest fun ever
News Briefs
Around Missouri
Small-town saviors

Rural Missouri - April 2012