Using lengthy arms, coded commands and stealthy moves, seven robots—designed by about 25 College of the Canyons (COC) students—competed in the college’s second robotic challenge Thursday.
Hosted by the COC MakerSpace, the eco-zomBEE Challlenge encouraged students to create original, and costumed, robots out of a free LEGO MindStorms 9797 kit.
“Last year we did another one that was a zombie theme and they had to pick up recyclables like bottles, wads of aluminum foil and take them to a certain repository,” said Christopher Walker, coordinator of MakerSpace. “This time we did a little bit different theme.”
This year the MakerSpace collaborated with COC’s Sustainable Development Committee to have the robots act like “bees” as they navigated a native garden course complete with pumpkins and paper flowers.
“We wanted to tie it together with the theme for our Sustainability Development Committee which is native gardens,” said Jason Oliver, department chair of the architecture and interior design program. “At the beginning Jeannie Chari talked about pollination and nectar in the environment.”
Each of the seven teams competed in two heats, at 30 minutes and 15 minutes each, where they tried to earn the most points and knock each other’s robots over.
To earn points, each robot had to gather magnetic pollen from a “male” flower and deposit it at a “female” flower that was designated by their similar colors.
The teams could also gain points by moving liquid nectar from each flower to a beehive in the center of the course.
“It’s learning about robotics, learning about magnetism, learning about pollen and nectar, learning about teamwork, planning and having a little fun and earning some prizes,” Oliver said.
The three teams with the most points won Coffee Kiosk gift cards as well as biodegradable native flower pots.
Before Thursday’s event, the students had about six weeks to prepare their robots, study prototypes and work with staff in the MakerSpace.
“All of the teams had a chance to come into the MakerSpace to perfect their designs,” Walker said. “The courses was set up for just today, they didn’t have chance to drive the course, but we did have some of the flowers in the MakerSpace so they could practice and adjust their robots for them.”
For students spent time practicing and designing their robots, the extra work paid off.
The winning team of group No. 7 spent about three weeks designing their robot and three to four hours in the MakerSpace before Thursday’s challenge.
“I’ve played with Legos since I was little, but never did something like this,” said COC student Alee Ponce who was on Team 7. “We made a box and the face looked like Wall-E.”
“We modeled it after the kit,” COC student and teammate Bo Mobley followed. “We were in the MakerSpace for three to four hours working with the prototype flower and making this.”
With their Wall-E robot, the team crushed the competition with a total of 154 points. They were followed by Team No. 2 with 80 points and Team No. 7 with 61 points.
Others who participated in the event enjoyed the experience of making a robot for the first time and competing against their classmates.
“It took two weeks to build,” COC student Jamie Ormsby said. “I had no idea how to build a robot. It’s pretty fun.”
Oliver and Walker hope to expand the MakerSpace event during the upcoming semester as they add in new technologies at new MakerFairs.
“Our main motivation is to get students using the MakerSpace, learning about some of the tools and equipment in there and then incorporating it into their other classes,” Oliver said.
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_