Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

November 26, 2012

Robot warriors build winning teams


Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Nate Brick and Ethan Shaft were among the ones who programmed the robot, which took a few tries. To top it off, the Loc Blocks won the Teamwork Award.

Emmet Belknap’s Lego bot also did well, as it completed four or five missions, out of 13. Most robots complete only a handful, as matches are about two-and-a-half minutes.

At Emmet Belknap, the school’s sixth-grade team, Robot Rockers, will also be moving on to the Finger Lakes. The team won the Project Award for a commercial they shot, selling a product that assists seniors who find it hard getting into and out of their vehicles. Each of the 12 kids on the team interviewed a senior citizen in order to find out some of the everyday issues they face.

For some seniors, having to get into a vehicle can be challenging, so the Emmet Belknap kids developed a vehicle with a swivel seat, the Grand Pala. The name is derived from combining the words grandparents and Impala, which is a General Motors vehicle. GM has a plant on Upper Mountain Road in Lockport.

Swivel seats exist in some vehicles overseas, but are not found in U.S. vehicles. General Motors and Delphi engineers spoke to the Robot Rockers while researching the idea.

The team shot a commercial at Heinrich Chevrolet on South Transit Road, where two elder women purchase the Grand Pala. Jared Miner, who played a doctor in the commercial, said the team learned about stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal and gradual breakdown of cartilage.

The Robot Rockers visited the Dale Association to show off their idea. It was a big hit.

“They asked where they could get one,” Kate Matthies said.

Cherie Anterline, a special education aide at Emmet who coaches the Rockers with technology teacher Michael Lieber, said they were proud of the kids and thankful for the community’s support. Having both schools walk away winners was exciting, she added.

“It was a fun bus ride home,” Anterline said.

2012-13 FIRST LEGO ROBOTICS • Emmet Belknap Robot Rockers (sixth-graders)won Project Award, will compete Dec. 9 in Finger Lakes regional. • North Park Junior High Loc Blocks (seventh-graders) and System Upgrade (eighth-graders)won Champion's Award, Teamwork Award and Overall Robot Performance, System Upgrade will compete Dec. 9 in Finger Lakes region.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.

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