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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Eaglebots ride wave of community support

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

In a demonstration, a robotic arm draws a clean school logo on a white board. [Order this photo]
Word is spreading. Eaglebots.

After the Harris Middle School robotics team received best rookie honors in competition with other mid-state middle and high school teams, the interest and support they are receiving in the community is growing.

Since their win, the students have visited the Tennessee Technology Center and toured the Industrial Maintenance classrooms.

The Eaglebot team enjoyed a visit to view real-life robotics at work at the Tennessee Technology Center.
"We observed several robots in use at the center," said sponsor Rebecca Soper. "It was an incredible experience for this team as it was the first time for many of them to see an actual workplace robot perform. I believe most of the team could have easily stayed all day working the robot and asking intelligent questions of the students and instructors."

But according to Soper, the team is no longer just about the six-week BEST competition season. (The acronym stands for Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology, and the annual competition takes place at Lipscomb University's Allen Arena each year.)

The team is working in the off-season, taking field trips and participating in monthly challenges. This month students have been challenged to design and build a trebuchet which can launch a marshmallow 10 feet. A trebuchet is a type of catapult that works by using the energy of a raised counterweight to throw a projectile.

Each challenge has guidelines, and for this one, the trebuchet must fit on the table top and the materials budget may not exceed $10. The trebuchet must function on weight balance and cannot use rubber bands or a spring-loaded system.

Students are not only learning engineering skills, but how to properly present concepts as well. Accompanying the trebuchet will be a poster explaining trial launches, predicting the launches on reveal day, a budget explanation and evidence of the engineering process.

"The benefits of forming this magnificent team reach far beyond the concept of building a robot," Soper said. "The team members are developing leadership skills, public speaking experience and fine tuning their higher-level thinking skills."

At the November meeting of the Bedford County Board of Education, four of the students made a formal presentation to the board, describing the history and origin of the Eaglebots. Those students included Carridwen Kaiding, Maddy Lempin, Brian Young and Taylor Gregory. In January, students will be challenged to build a gumball machine using a plastic 20 oz. bottle, notecards, wire hanger, tape and a few other household items.

"Each challenge will include not only engineering skills but math, science, marketing, fine art, historical research, public speaking and public presentation skills - all while continuing to build leadership and promote education in a fun and innovative way," said Soper.

"We are all very proud of the accomplishments we have made which surpass the BEST competition. This is a fine example of how we can positively impact the leaders of our future."

How to help

Monetary and in-kind donations may be submitted to Harris Middle School or by contacting Rebecca Soper at soperr@bedfordk12tn.net. Visit http://TheEaglebots.com for the latest Harris Middle School Robotics news.