The abundance of extracurricular activities and clubs that PHS possesses is eye opening. The most prominent and popular activities at the school include sports teams, Booster Club, NHS or even SADD. However, the most popular clubs aren’t always seen as the most interesting. The PHS Robotics Club has attracted many technology-minded students.
The Robotics Club is a modern edition of the collection of activities PHS has to offer, and it has had its share of successes. Most would see robotics as a club, which it is; however, it is also known as an extracurricular activity due to the fact that it involves just as much time and competition than any other activity at the school. The Robotics Club is sponsored by engineering teacher Mable Zehr.
“Being a part of robotics gives you the opportunity to innovate and learn a few new things while you do it. It’s pretty cool,” said Zehr.
Most people are unfamiliar with what the Robotics Club actually accomplishes on a daily basis. The building of robots is not easy. The process begins with assembly or physical construction of the robot. This part is vital, as only so many parts are allowed on your robot for it to be eligible for competition. In that sense, every piece counts and can make a difference when competition arises. However, physical assembly is not the only part of building a robot. Once the robot is assembled, coding of the robot must take place in order for it to function properly. Coding is the process of assigning a code to something for the purposes of classification or identification. These codes are a combination of words and letters, sometimes numbers, that act as commands for a computer, or in this case, a robot. The codes tell the robot what to do in general or based on its surroundings. For example, a robot might be coded to move forward for a certain length of time, turn right for a certain length of time, then stop. The overall construction of the robot takes roughly six weeks, but the coding takes the bulk of the time. Throughout the years, Zehr has noticed some patterns about her students regarding the construction and coding of robots.
“I have noticed that the more mechanically-inclined kids are better at the physical construction, and the kids that are into gaming are better at the coding part of it,” said Zehr.
Currently, the team is working on a robot hockey game. Their robots will compete at the Hoosier Hills Career Center in Bloomington on February 9. They have seen competitions before; however, this one is different. For the first time, the robots they have built will be able to wound and possibly destroy competing robots in the hockey game.
The Robotics Club is a great way to enhance your innovation skills and meet some new people. However, it is also a great start to discover an in-demand career path. Several engineering pathways are linked directly with robotics. Many students notice their interest in the engineering field because of their membership in the Robotics Club.
For Zehr, however, it isn’t about the high-leveled thinking or creative building, but the students she has the privilege to work with on a daily basis.
“I have the most amazing students and I get to meet the coolest kids in the world,” said Zehr. “They teach me just as much as I teach them.”
Story by Jace Ingle