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Plank Robotics Teams Have Strong Showing at State Qualifying Tournaments

Dec 07, 2016 09:40AM ● Published by Steven Jack

Gallery: Plank Robotics [2 Images] Click any image to expand.

Two of the three Plank Jr High School Robotics teams competed this past weekend (December 3rd) at the FIRST LEGO LEAGUE Robotics State Qualifying Tournaments.    

The tournament took place at Naperville North High School against 30 other area teams.  This tournament had two brackets of 16 teams and four teams from each bracket were selected to move on to compete at the State Level.

The FIRST LEGO LEAGUE competition has four parts: Project Presentation, FIRST Core Values, Robot Design, and the Robot Game.   The theme of this year’s challenge is Animal Allies.  For the project, teams had to investigate some sort of animal/human interaction and try to improve upon it.

The Plank Robit Rovers team, coached by Chris Danison, won the Robot Performance award.  This award is given to the team that scored the most points in the Robot Game portion of the competition.  

The project that the team worked on required that they worked with a local beekeeper, Dr. Bell (Belfry Bees) to learn more about bees.  They also worked with the Chief Engineer at Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) to learn more about drone deliveries.  

The team’s project solution was to add upward looking sensors to drones that biomimic the eyes that are on top of a honey bee’s head to allow drones to navigate into smaller spaces.  The team’s overall score however wasn’t high enough to earn an invitation to the State Competition.

The Noodle Squad, coached by Christine Pietrowiak, did their project on the vaquita.  The vaquita is the smallest porpoise in the world and is on the verge of extinction.  There are only an estimated 60 left because they are caught in gill nets where they drown.  

The government of Mexico has designated part of the Gulf of California as a vaquita reserve; however, a fish called the totoaba also lives there.  The totoaba is highly valued on the black market for its anti-aging properties. While there is a gill net ban in place, poachers are not significantly punished and illegal fishing and vaquita deaths persist.  

The team’s solution is to shift totoaba production out of the vaquita habitat by producing vaquita-safe totoaba along with agar-producing red algae using an energy independent, closed loop aquaponics system.  The Noodle Squad’s overall score was enough to earn an invitation to the State Competition that will take place next month.

The third Plank team, Content Deleted, coached by Josh Meyers and Kelly & Brian Taylor, will be competing this coming Sunday, December 11, at Oswego East High School.  

Content Deleted’s project is on reducing the medical costs of decommissioned Police Dogs.  In most situations the office or handler of the Police Dog takes on all medical costs of the decommission dog.  These costs can be extreme in many cases.  They are proposing creating an organization that can provide low or no cost veterinary care for these animals who have served.

All the teams at Plank Jr. High School would like to thank all of our sponsors who helped us out this season: INEOS Styrolution, Thomas Orthodontics, Kronos, and Kumon of Oswego.


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