Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Robotics Club: Designing a Mars Base and Meeting with Professionals

Robotics: Mars Research

In addition to working with Lego robots, teams in the First Lego League research real-world problems and propose original solutions. Teams present this project as part of an FLL competition. This year the competition theme is outer space. The SJS team was inspired by the challenges of starting a base on Mars. They learned about the physical differences between Earth and Mars and the difficulty of transporting cargo and crew members. They planned a "Happy Martian Resort" complete with a display board and brochures advertising its amenities.

The team was interested in combating the loneliness that explorers would feel being away from Earth. Since the base would be underground, they decided that light therapy would help the astronauts keep a healthy sleep schedule and preserve their mental health.

The First Lego League stresses the importance of students meeting and sharing ideas with professionals in the field that they are studying. Since we were interested in the isolation that the astronauts would experience, we met with a priest and licensed therapist. We discussed ways to create connections between people and combat loneliness.

We also had the opportunity to have a Google Hangout with a NASA engineer. We told him about our project and he asked some questions that helped us learn more about Mars and current NASA projects.
We set up a meeting over the internet. First the students presented their research and solution.

 All the students participate in the presentation with each student explaining one section.

 Mr. Ferullo asked questions about the presentation.

 The team showed him our display board advertising the "Happy Martian Resort."

We learned more about the problem of radiation on Mars. An underground base will protect the astronauts from radiation.

 We heard about the lighting that NASA has installed on the International Space Station and in mission control.

We learned about the isolation that researchers experience in Antarctica.

It was a wonderful opportunity for our students to share their project with a NASA engineer. He helped us connect what we had studied with what is happening in current NASA research projects. The SJS robotics team gives students a chance to explore science outside the classroom!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Robotics: Competition Time

It's Competition Time!!

The SJS Robotics team has started our competition season with a scrimmage at St. Joseph's H.S. in Metuchen. Thirty eight teams got together to practice using the robot under real competition conditions. We had a good time showing off our robot to the other students and checking out everyone's great design ideas.

Here's the team with our robot

 Getting ready to take the field

The robot is completing its tasks.

 After the first round, we needed to make a few adjustments back at the pit.

Ready to start Round #2

Close-up of our robot

Another close-up, this time the robot is holding an agent craft that it uses in one of the tasks.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Student Council

St. James Student Council has been hard at work getting ready for the Halloween Spooktacular.

Friday, October 19, 2018

The 3D Experience

We had a great first meeting for our 3D Experience Club!  Students worked together on their first task: creating Saint James themed key chains.  Our plans are to print designs, sell them to students, and use the money raised to donate to a local organization.  Stay tuned to see our amazing creations!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Grades K - 2 Craft Club

Halloween Hedgehogs

Grades K - 2 Craft Club made Halloween Hedgehogs.  They used small muscle coordination skills as they placed pipe cleaners all around a Styrofoam Egg. Fun was had by all!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Crazy 8's Math Club

The students in Math Club built 3D shapes (polyhedrons) with glowsticks and Styrofoam balls.  Individually they built pyramids and cubes.  In groups they were challenged to make a 3D shape with pentagons for sides, which is called a dodecahedron.  This was quite the challenge.  Afterward, Math Club had free time to explore what else they could build with their teams.  We ended our club session with building pentagonal prisms that the students took home.  Geometry and engineering can be fun!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Robotics Sept 2018

SJS Robotics, Sept. 2018

Our SJS Robotics team is hard at work! Our competition is Nov. 15 and we have plenty of work to do getting ready.

We begin all of our meetings with a team building activity. This gives the students a chance to practice working together creatively. This week, the team was challenged to make a tower using just newspaper and masking tape. The tower was supposed to be more than 12 inches and strong enough to hold a heavy book. The team took it to a higher level!

Sometimes we need to make repairs to our mission models. Our robot was supposed to drive over the "craters" and push on the bar, but the robot broke the bar instead. Luckily, Legos can be easily fixed.

The students are brainstorming ways that the robot can collect "core samples" from one area of the robot field.

Next, they are writing down the individual steps that the robot will take in completing the task.

In addition to building a robot, our team will propose a solution to a real world problem. The topic this year is long term space exploration. Our team is doing background research on Mars and learning about all of the challenges that astronauts will encounter during a Mars mission.

The team is building different styles of forklift and will test them to see which one will work best for the robot missions.