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Spotlight - April 2013

posted Apr 2, 2013, 8:26 AM by Susan Conley   [ updated Apr 2, 2013, 10:23 AM ]
Greely High School’s Research Class 
An Exploration of Research and Robots

 A Photo of One of Our Three State Champion Robots! 

Do you know what the Junior Science & Humanities Symposium and the VEX Robotic Challenge have in common? MSAD #51’s Research Class! Rather than a co-curricular club, the Robotics team at GHS is an exciting part of the innovative Research Class. Led by Greely High School science teacher Robert O’Neill, a group of 16 sophomores, juniors and seniors have spent this year focusing on the cutting edge field of robot construction, and preparing research papers for scholarly review. 

Students in the Research Class have been designing and programming robots to meet the specific challenges for the VEX National Robotics Championship, which will be held in Nebraska this year. In past challenges the robots have had to pick up discs, cylinders, small and large balls, and then do different things with them to score. Sometimes they are required to move items to different locations and usually all competitions involve picking the game pieces up and placing them on higher platforms. This year the team entered three robots in the state competition and all three qualified for the Nationals. In fact, since the class started in 2007, students have qualified each year with the exception of one -- and that was due to a “robot casualty” in the final round. Unfortunately the National competitions are very expensive to enter, limiting the team’s ability to compete. In addition to the State Championship, the team has won the Design Competition and the Sportsmanship Award.

In the research segment of the class, Juniors Gabby Bouchard and Elizabeth Towle each submitted papers to the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. Their papers were 2 of only 5 selected for presentation from Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Elizabeth’s paper on “UV-A Irradiation of Arabidopsis thaliana” earned her second place award, and she will compete in the National JSHS event. Gabby was awarded fourth place for her paper entitled “Green Roofs Affecting Building Temperature and Water Runoff” and she has also been invited to attend the National event. Sophomore Meagan Currie earned second place in the poster division with her research on the “Effects of Saxitoxins in the dinoflagellate Alexandrium fundyense on the filtration rates of the Blue Mussel Mytilus edulis”. Congratulations to all the students for these impressive accomplishments.

Greely’s Research Class is open to sophomores, juniors & seniors. It may be taken as a one year class, though most students take the three year cycle, working towards submitting projects into the National Competitions, which open only to seniors.

For more information on the VEX robotic challenge, please visit www.vexforum.com/wiki/index.php/Sack_Attack
STEM is alive and well in MSAD #51!