Calabar roars in robotics
The lions of Calabar High School hunted glory and took home the FIRST Tech Challenge Jamaica National Robotics Championship top award last Saturday, two steps up from their placement last year.
The eight-member team competed against 30 schools in the second staging of the championship, which was held at Jamaica College.
Calabar will soon gear up again to represent Jamaica at the World Championships in Houston, Texas, next month.
Team captain Joel Tulloch described the school’s robotics club, which was formed in September 2016, as progressive.
Tulloch said the award was significant to both club and school.
“It is a step further into STEM and a step further into academics. The members of the club are ecstatic about it. It’s a great accomplishment. We’ve all been working late hours and long nights just to reach here, and with God, it was made possible,” he said.
As the competition drew closer, the team met three times during the school week and on Saturdays.
Tulloch went on to explain how the team worked together throughout the two-month period.
“We got all the parts, designed the chassis, and from there we designed the linear slide and put the pieces together. Everyone had their role to play. I monitored the book, one person did the programming, we had the engineer who ensured that the robot was working, and we had the drivers,” Tulloch said.
The club currently has 20 members and Tulloch anticipates that it will expand in the next few weeks.
Outreach was a key component in copping the Inspire award, and the team spread its wings to the nearby Dunrobin Primary and miles away to Freetown Primary School in Clarendon.
The trophy made the rounds around the school compound on Monday after a special celebratory devotion.
Tyrique Murray, the youngest member of the team and robot driver, has found the club’s activities rewarding.
“I felt like we deserved the win, but for me, it was about the experience. I look forward to the years to come,” the grade nine student said.
Coached by past students
The team was coached by two past students – one dedicated to driving lessons and the other to overall construction.
A 200-page engineering notebook accompanied their entry, detailing the team’s preparation and engineering strategies, budget, outreach events, among other things.
The senior members of the club are physics students and they have seen many concepts come to life.
Lead engineer Rory Allen told The Gleaner that the team overcame numerous hurdles during the process.
“The first difficulty we had was with the size. It had to be 18x18, and we dealt with that and moved on to the lift system, which was a key part of the competition – lifting up blocks and stacking them,” Allen explained.
Their efforts resulted in a robot Allen described as “good in many aspects” because of its manoeuvrability, shape, and compactness.
Principal Albert Corcho was elated about the school’s win and for the opportunity to represent Jamaica in Texas.
“What is really good for us is that the other boys on the compound are seeing that once you work hard, once you put your hands and heart in it, this is the outcome,” Corcho said.