Robotics program a success at Bountiful Jr. HighApr 05, 2021 12:17PM ● By April Shumway
Most junior high schools in Davis County have a robotics program; however, the teams at Bountiful Jr. High School have made their mark with a team that won the state championship and qualified for the national robotics competition that was set to held in Kentucky. Unfortunately, that competition was cancelled due to the COVID19 pandemic.
“It was disappointing. We had our plane tickets, hotel reservations and everything,” said teacher and robotics club leader Wes Gold. He also teaches wood shop and other industrial courses. Before becoming a teacher, Gold had a background in engineering and design. When Principal Kathryn Ashton suggested they start a robotics program, Gold was not fond of the idea.
“To my surprise I ended up loving it,” Gold said.
Gold mostly lets the group be self-sufficient and says he is there to maintain their safety and of course to answer questions. The robotics club members all agreed they would not be where they are without Gold.
Every robot the team makes is assembled from the ground up. The robotics team meets twice a week and has a dedicated room for their activities. Multiple drawers of gears, wheels and tiny parts line the wall of their work room. Students also keep a robot journal to log each step taken, including detailed diagrams of how things work. These journals are also part of the state competitions and students are judged on them as well as the design of each robot.
Every year there is a new competition with a completely different set up. The group receives their practice course in pieces, and they are required to assemble that properly as well.
Students are put into teams to build their robots. This year’s challenge was called “rise above.” The object of the challenge is to stack three of the same colors in one of several goal spots. Two teams of two compete at the same time on opposite ends of the table and have 60 seconds to complete the task. It’s rare that a team can complete the course in the allotted time which adds to the challenge of the competition.
It is not just all about the building of the robot either. They also have to program the robot to move how they want it to move. You can have the best built robot but if it will not function properly or at all, then it’s back to the work bench.
“Building robots is a trial-and-error process,” said Gold, “and sometimes students get upset when they have to take something apart and start over. That is what I am here for, just to guide them through.”
At the end of the year the robotics teams are also responsible for completely disassembling the robots they worked so hard on. They also must make sure each tiny part is put back in the right drawer and compartment.
“Success is not always about winning, it is about learning and sharing that knowledge with others,” said Gold.
Because of the success of their robotics class and club, Bountiful Jr. High will be offering a Robotics 2 class next year with a prerequisite to have completed Robotics 1.