Aimee Bingham Osinski firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, the Dexter Dreadbot Robotics team hosted an open house. Droid was created by Dexter High School’s first Robotics team to spread the joy of STEM to the community. The program currently has 8 teams which covers age groups K through 12. The event took place in Wylie cafeteria and gave attendees the opportunity to meet different members of the team and see what the different age groups are doing. Attendees also had the opportunity to tour the Dry dock work area for the Dreadbots.
I had the privilege of receiving a tour from one of the two team Captains this year, Dexter senior, Aden Angus. The first robot I got to see was Lucy. Lucy can roll over objects and do other tasks as defined by the 2016 robotics competition. The high school team is currently working on a new robot for the current competition. The Dexter Dreadbots compete in The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics competition. The vision of FIRST is , “to transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.” Dean Kamen, Founder of FIRST and prolific inventor.
What I saw in the dry dock and in the Wylie cafeteria was exactly the realization of that dream. As a student, it’s nice to find your place in the world, something you’re known for, and really good at doing. Maybe you're physically not built to dunk on the basketball court, or maybe you never wanted to get thrown to the ground in football, or maybe dance and cheerleading seemed boring, but math and science captivated you. The Dexter students have an outlet, and from my limited STEM ability, it appears that they have a lot of talent. I saw children feeling confidence displaying their intellectual ability, and to me, that’s a great thing. The access to the tools and hands on learning is a wonderful opportunity. I thought to myself during the tour, “wow, these kids are going to change the world.”
The FIRST competition theme for the year is Infinite Recharge. The robots need to be able to pick up plastic balls we used to whip at each other in dodgeball, not the foam ones of today, and shoot them into holes in the wall at various heights. The higher the shot, the more points the team earns. From the practice shots I watched, the Dexter team is ready to hit the highest point shots possible. Maybe these kids aren’t naturals on the basketball court, but who knows, maybe they are. It’s certain they can build a robot to be. There are two Infinite Recharge events they are going to currently this year. They are going to the Belleville District Event at Belleville High School on March 13th and 14th. Their second competition is the Lincoln District Event on March 20th and 21st. The community can support the team by attending these events or watching the live stream to cheer them on!
I spoke with Krystin Nelligan, who handles community outreach. I asked her what the team needs. "Our team would like a cnc machining capability, a powder coat setup, an additional set of control hardware, and higher-end 3D printer than what we already have," she stated. Aden was very appreciative of the band saw that was provided by the Dexter Education Foundation.
The younger kids start with the First Lego League and build a model from supplied kits. As the child grows, the projects become more challenging. The children on the team do various tasks, from 3D printing to electronics. Some even use heavy duty machines to cut metal and weld pieces. Some provide marketing and community outreach, which includes helping the GIrl Scouts earn two badges, The Lions Club Christmas tree sale, and STEM nights at the school. The entire program is real world experience for future careers. What a fantastic opportunity, this program is for Dexter students.
If you’re interested in having your child get involved or you’re willing to help the teams, you need not be STEM savy to help. Parents willing to wrangle children are always needed. Contact DexterDROIDProgram@gmail.com.