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Building a better future

Lindsey True took sibling rivalry to a new level – one that has helped her and other students at Pilot Point High School.

Lindsey is part of the Pilot Point High School robotics team advancing to the Boosting Engineering Science and Technology Robotics state competition Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco after finishing second in a regional competition in October in Denton. Lindsey explained what motivated her to join the robotics team.

“I kind of joined because my brother [Garrett] is real big into it, and I was like why not try to outdo him,” she said, laughing and adding that she likes being able to “create and build stuff.”

The PPHS team has 15 students on the roster. The students were spread out into smaller groups for people to work on different elements of the robot at the Oct. 20 competition at the University of North Texas, said Lizzy McClinchie, robotics team adviser as well as PPHS anatomy and physiology and environmental science teacher. Bridgeport High School took first at the competition. Guyer and Eaton high schools also will be at state.

Just six students – Garrett True, Hunter Kulesz, Paige Matthews, Alex Reeder, Kolton Reid and Micah Henson – were able to show up in Denton because so many of the students are involved in so many other activities, such as band and athletics.

“Schedule-wise, that has been a challenge for them,” McClinchie said.

Students are working on their robot for the competition in Frisco. Most of the students on the team gathered in a room just outside McClinchie’s office Oct. 26 to work on their contraption for the state competition. They have to build their robot from wood and PVC pipes along with electronic and mechanical components.

“The premise of the competition revolved around gathering plastics from the ocean – like pollution – and they’re supposed to build a robot that could travel along like a wobbling piece of wood that kind of represented the ocean water like a wave,” she said.

The robot has to travel along a narrow beam and must have an arm that could reach out and grab pieces of plastic from spinning bowls that represented trash in the ocean, she said. The goal was to collect trash, and there were like teamwork aspects involved in which students need to work together with other teams in the competition, she said.

Students work well together and are efficient in building the robot, with ag students and computer-savvy students bringing their particular skills and knowledge to the fore, McClinchie said.

Other members of the robotics team are Josh Kochanski, Johnny Houston, Carson Weitekamp, Esme Alejos, Claire Sitzes, Breanna Thompson, Robert Cox and Austin Thompson.

“I’m technically the lead engineer, which means I give out all the ideas and help build the majority of it,” Reid said.

Henson was served as one of the engineers for the robot.

“In Denton, I was the field scientist,” Henson said.

Lindsey wrote an essay on ocean currents, and she kept track of the students’ journal.

“In Denton, we were able to look at everyone and see what they did that worked good, and we’re now recreating our whole design and basing it off the stuff we saw that worked for other people,” Reid said.

Henson said students “have a new vision for our robot that we’re making,” mentioning ideas they picked up from other schools.

“We’re pretty much re-doing the whole robot, so I think that’s good,” Lindsey said. “It’s going to be hard to have a good score, so we’re just going to have to think hard and hope for the best.”

The students made PVC horns for the robot, and it boosted the team’s morale.

“Half the fun is just interacting with others and making your own fun,” Reid said.

Students could play hockey or curling with a PVC pipe and roll of duct tape.

Reid said students were “really surprised, in a really good way” about getting second at the event. The challenge was difficult.

“Some of the other coaches there who have been doing this for 25 years told me this was the hardest challenge that they’ve even seen,” McClinchie said. “So, it was a little bit daunting for them to begin with.”

But in the last few days before the competition, students pulled together and put their best effort in, she said.

As they watched what happened in the first couple of rounds competition, students saw other teams struggling, but their robot did well and seemed to be a strong contender.

“It was so cool to see them kind of realize they had a fighting chance,” McClinchie said.

She said the students made adjustments between matches.

“They were really getting into it,” she said. “They were getting so excited. It was really awesome for one of them to come out of their shell and get excited about it.”

Students learned a lot just seeing all of the other robots and got different ideas and saw different ways people approach a challenge, McClinchie said.

The state competition will employ the same premise of gathering plastics from the ocean. Students have to turn in an engineer’s notebook in which they take notes on how they built their robot and will write a research paper. They also do a marketing presentation in which the intent would be to try to interest an ocean pollution company to hire them to build their robot to help reduce pollution in the oceans.

“I’m just really excited for them to do this, and I know they’re excited,” McClinchie said.

Henson is in his first year in robotics, and he found that others had a “blast” doing it last year, which triggered his interest.

Reid joined last year because a group of his friends got involved. Plus, he said, he likes to build stuff and find “unique solutions to problems.”

He has interest in a science-based career after high school. He said he’s looking at in a career field in computer engineering/computer sciences and is looking at the Air Force Academy, Southern Nazarene University and University of Texas. Lindsey is interested in the police field in the realm of psychology and wants to work in that area to find our why “people do the stuff they do.”

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