Skip to main content

Robotics team advances to World Finals

Team members are Isaiah Bordeaux, Ryne Scott, Brandt Kline, Cole Ellet, Collin Eidson and Noah Bollinger.
Team members are Isaiah Bordeaux, Ryne Scott, Brandt Kline, Cole Ellet, Collin Eidson and Noah Bollinger. Photo by Lori Overmyer

Corralling six middle school students and giving them the freedom to implement rules and design to build a functioning robot is totally doable when coaches and team members collaborate.

Self-named the Robo Phantoms, under the direction of coaches Travis Bolinger and Jon Bordeaux, the Crestview Middle School team built their “brain” or “Cerebro” as they refer to their robot, and placed seventh in state competition, and are headed to the worlds in Dallas, Texas, in May.

For background, the teams receive materials and a description of the project at the beginning of each season from VEX corporation. They are free to add materials and completely design their own means to achieve the year’s goal and earn the most points. They compete in three categories:

Programming (how well the system works), Driving (how well the machine works), and Cooperative (working with an unknown team to achieve the goals using both devices).

The goal for this year’s competition was to build and program a robot to catapult balls into a basket. The area they work in is approximately 6-feet-by-8-feet. The basket is in the middle of the board, the balls are placed around the perimeter, and Cerebro maneuvers around the defined area collecting the balls and heaving them into the basket. The team has 60 seconds to score points.

While many teams will use the motors provided, but “Their (team’s) Brain is theirs,” Coach Bolinger emphasized.

“This is the best one we’ve done, but it’s the hardest,” team member Noah Bolinger said. “We started out thinking about a crosshair, but what we came up with is much better.”

To gather ideas, the team researched using YouTube and their own ideas. All ideas and processes are recorded, so they aren’t redoing errors.
Team recorder Cole Ellet said, “When we saw this project, we knew it would be challenging.”

The team wanted Cerebro to move four ways, so they used an Omni wheel on the motor. This allows them to move quickly and efficiently both forward, backward, and sideways. The brain has six motors connected to the controller.

They also created the program to guide Cerebro. Using a controller the students programmed, the driver communicates which direction the brain should move, when to grab balls, and when to launch the balls to the basket. The controller uses touch screens to run different programs such as moving the brain, stopping it, and launching.

The team has developed an efficient machine as it can collect up to six balls at a time, then accurately hits the basket when unloading the balls. The team wanted to make Cerebro more efficient, so they redesigned often to make it as light as possible.

The STEM activity not only strengthens students’ skills in science, technology, engineering, and math, but it also builds strong collaboration skills. For example, during the individual team competition, the controller is shared among the team members, reflecting the cooperation to it takes to run a robot.
The cooperative skills are also apparent in the Cooperative portion of the competition as two unfamiliar teams collaborate to use both of their brains to achieve the same goal.

The skills of the not only the Crestview Middle School Robotics team but all the other Huntington Robotics teams will be on display at Huntington North High School in the gym on Saturday, April 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.