Shelby Eastern Schools had been toying around with the idea of adding a Robotics Club.
Seeing the success of other Shelby County schools, as well as hearing SES students express interest, convinced the district that now was the right time to get onboard.
Both Morristown and Waldron Jr/Sr. High School students have been busy in recent weeks as they begin building their bots. Waldron, with around 20 members, got started the week before fall break; Morristown, with about twice as many, got started the week after the break.
SES Technology Director Cody Stewart said he initially spoke with some student techs who come into his office and they expressed interest.
“It kind of snowballed from there to what it is today,” he said.
Stewart, who serves as one of the advisors, said he initially spoke with Superintendent Dr. Robert Evans about the idea, and Evans gave the go-ahead. Stewart then approached both principals, Ken Howell at Morristown and Gary Brown at Waldron, and they, too, liked the idea.
With all onboard, the school board gave its approval.
The two programs set up shop in empty classrooms at their respective elementary schools. Both rooms are painted half red and half blue, because the clubs are split in half to form two teams – the red team and the blue team.
Stewart has made a game of it.
Each team at both schools has been tasked with building a better bot quicker.
There’s also a twist to the game. Each team has a nagger – someone who is assigned by his or her team to roam over to the opposing team and try to distract them while they try to build their bot. The nagger is required to inform one of the advisors that they want to play that card before going over, and there are specific rules to the caveat including no shouting and no physical contact by either side.
Stewart said he created the nagger to simulate real-world situations.
“Not everything is going to be streamlined to be smooth sailing so you’re going to have distraction at a competition, you’re going to have a piece break so you’ve got to repair it real quick, so it’s more of a way for students to see the real-life scenarios they’re going to face in the competition,” he said.
The two Shelby Eastern schools are planning on competing at a tournament at Triton Central in February as well as possibly one in December, he said.
Morristown’s club is managing the best it can with two robots because students have specific roles assigned to them. There are various roles like web designer.
“Everybody comes together as a team to function as a whole to build the best robot they can,” he said. “It’s difficult with the amount of kids we have in here but, hopefully, with additional donations and funding we can get a couple more robots so that everybody has more hands on – but right now we can’t.”
He said those interested in helping the club can contact him at email@example.com.
The club has reached out to local businesses and plans on hosting a dinner and silent auction either at the end of November or beginning of December. All proceeds will go toward the club.
The priority right now is to add more bots for the club at Morristown because of the size of it. Stewart said he hopes they get to the point where they can add more bots in Waldron, but the priority is Morristown.
In the meantime, the clubs are excited to get started. So much so, that when they first started to meet, members wanted to get started building the bot right away. Stewart said there were steps they had to take prior to getting to that point, however.
“We know the school board and administration is behind us and the community is as well,” he said. “We just want to make them proud.”