CRANBERRY TWP — Residents of the Sherwood Oaks retirement community saw the latest in robotics from North Catholic High School Thursday after more than a dozen members of the school's robotics club visited, presented their creation and answered questions as to how they made it.
The robot, Koby, was built and programmed to place boxes in select areas to score points in a game. This year, Koby and the North Catholic team went all the way to the national championships in Detroit.
The presentation started with a video of the robot competing with others to score the most points by placing boxes in the correct areas, demonstrating the robot's abilities.
“We put a lot of time and effort into this robot,” said Thomas Franco, a junior, recounting the many trials the students experienced along the way.
“We had six weeks to build it, and (during) the last week (realized) our previous design wasn't going to work,” Thomas said. “So, we had to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new design.”
In three days, they redesigned and rebuilt the robot, but their struggles weren't over. The robot was inadvertently “destroyed” during a practice session.
With just a few days left, the team rebuilt it during a marathon session at the school that stretched from 3 p.m. to midnight.
Students then shared their personal experiences of being on the team, with many emphasizing how much they learned about working with others and building friendships and partnerships.
“The best part of robotics by far is the friendships we've made together,” said Peyton Jones, a sophomore.
Peyton said as a part of the robotics club, he has had the chance to develop leadership and communication skills, while getting hands-on experience in science and engineering.
Other students echoed this sentiment, saying that the club helped them to overcome social difficulties in school.
“When I went to join robotics, all I thought it would do is teach me to build a robot,” Ryan Dietrich said. “When I joined, I learned different social skills.”
The club also hopes to raise awareness about robotics programs in schools and help other schools give their students a chance to engage with robotics.
After the presentation, students held a question-and-answer session in which residents asked them about everything from their obstacles and learning about new technology to what it was like working in a group on such a complicated project.
The team ended the presentation with a demonstration, giving residents a chance to operate the robot and showing them how to use the controller to throw a ball from the bucket.
Sherwood Oaks resident Betty Tolbert got a chance to try it out, using the controller to swing Koby around and launch an inflated rubber ball from its basket.
“This was fun,” Tolbert said later. “I just loved it. I loved it all.”