Spartronics team generates excitement with new robot

Bainbridge High teens show off latest creation.

Spartronics Team Members Will Hobbs and Timo Lahtinen show a younger student how to work GAEA

Spartronics Team Members Will Hobbs and Timo Lahtinen show a younger student how to work GAEA

GAEA is no shy robot.

Standing at more than 6 feet tall, GAEA (Grabber Actuated Elevator Automaton) knows how to captivate a room. The robot’s creators — 50 of Bainbridge High School’s brightest — are happy to let GAEA take center stage any time.

And that’s exactly what Bainbridge High School’s Spartronics Team 4915 did during a Wednesday night robotics open house to show off GAEA, their newest creation.

Team members invited the public to witness the smooth moves of GAEA as the mechanical wonder grabbed, lifted and moved objects on a mini obstacle course over a two-hour period.

“I think it’s absolutely mind-boggling,” said Ginger Duncan, a visitor. “There’s a lot to understand. This is over-the-top. I think they’ve set the bar even higher. This is awesome.”

Between 400 to 500 visitors clogged the nine stations in various classrooms as they learned of the steps it takes to create a robot. Team members answered questions patiently, demonstrating as necessary to emphasize points.

The high schoolers were joined by their younger counterparts — FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) — who showed the early stages of their robotics training in separate classrooms, as well.

After placing in the top 5 percent at the World Championships in St. Louis, Missouri last year, the BHS Spartronics Team 4915 is looking to do it again. The first competition in a series is March 7-8. They’re allowed to have six working hours to get the kinks out of GAEA after seeing any flaws unveiled during Wednesday’s event.

This year’s team will compete in a game called “Recycle Rush,” which is a recycling-themed competition where two alliances play against one another with three robots each.

Team robots must stack totes on various scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers.

Robots will also “dispose of” pool noodles meant to represent litter. Spartronics members had to design a model that allows them to quickly and efficiently move and stack totes and containers to score points.

They’re hoping GAEA can steal the show and blow away the competition judges.

Depending on how the students do decides if they advance.

While winning is a plus, team members and the 15 adult mentors — all working in a variety of science and technology fields — know it is about more than placing in the top tiers.

Ultimately, its about teamwork and taking an in-depth look at STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) applications to real life, members and mentors said.

Junior Robby Davis, a second-year team member, got involved due to his love for taking things apart and putting them back together.

“I enjoyed that, but I didn’t know what to do with it,” he said. “I thought this would be a great place to expand my skills in the engineering field.”

Davis is already considering a career in mechanical engineering.

While the team has more than doubled in size since last year, more notable is the fact that more girls have joined.

Tararin Nikomborirak, a senior, joined the team this year and assists with marketing and other engineering needs.

On Wednesday, Nikomborirak greeted newcomers in the team mascot outfit — a flowing, white toga dress and spartan helmet. As someone who discovered a love for science and technology a little later than most, she said the opportunity to explain the club’s mission to younger students thrilled her.

“I’m hoping a lot of kids come tonight and get inspired,” she said. “I didn’t know I wanted to be an engineer until I tried it. So I’m hoping the kids will try it.”

When Spartronics members weren’t busy entertaining questions, they marveled at the turnout by the community.

Marie Sachs, a ninth-grader, was overwhelmed and excited to see the public come out in droves.

“There is a lot of people,” Sachs said. “I didn’t expect so many people. It’s pretty cool. It’s feels wonderful because I was that community last year. It’s just cool that people care about us, and I feel really proud of what we’ve done.”

For more information on supporting the Spartronics Team 4915, visit the team website at www.spartronics4915.com.

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