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Mr. Sanders Holds Sumo Bot Competition for STEM Explorations Classes


valley echo

Tyler Esmarian '18
2 February 2018

Mr. Randall Sanders recently spearheaded a novel project in his STEM Exploration classes: Students were split into groups and instructed to build robots using specialized kits. Once the robots were built, they duked it out in a "Sumo Bot" competition in the Wrestling Gym.

At first, Sanders gave his students kits that had parts inside that were required to assemble the robots, having to work together to get the job done. Making the project even more challenging, Mr. Sanders decided not to give the students any written instructions either.

Mr. Sanders describing the process of the competition to Dr. Cardillo and Mr. Rotella

The second step before the competition started was that the students had to test all of the sensors on each of the bots. The students had to check the sensors to ensure that each bot was functioning properly before they were to move on to the third step.

This final step required all students to take all the codes and throw them together into the final code to be able to control the bot. Mr. Sanders and all of his students spent about a month on these awesome projects.

After this, they battled in a competition, which Mr. Sanders created to make some excitement for the class. Little "arenas" were created using black tape. Two bots would face off in the arena, with the goal of knocking the other bot out of the black tape to advance.

Regardless of how each individual student did in the competition, the project was a rewarding experience for all. "For me, the main part of the project wasn't about building the robot, but working as a team to help and support each other," Alex Amaya '21 stated. "The best part of all was the laughs and smiles shared together."

Students in action competing against one another in the competition. Photo Creds: Tyler Esmarian Studies show that when introducing competition to the classroom that the students will learn more effectively. Competition in the classroom has a big focus on teamwork as well as practicing social skills. Furthermore, competition increases critical thinking as it makes students work harder to see who could build the best robot.

"Overall I am very happy with how my students preformed," Mr. Sanders said. "This was all new material for them and overall they were all successful in assembling and coding a functioning robot."

The idea for this project came from a robotics teacher named Brian Patton at George School, grades 9-12, in Pennsylvania. Patton is passionate for his work as he owns a robotics and electric supply company too. In his free time, he regularly updates his website, where he even organizes online classes holding demonstrations on robotics.

Stem Explorations is an incredible class and Mr. Sanders encourages all students fascinated to enroll in the course as it is an experience that will last forever.