The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local Education

January 7, 2012

Students kick off robotics season

ANDERSON, Ind. — Last spring, Annie Gates traveled to St. Louis to watch and cheer on her older brother at the FIRST Robotics Competition.

“It was really fun,” she said. “I went around to all the competitor booths and they gave out buttons.”

Dressed in silver sparkling Toms shoes and skinny jeans, Gates, 14, wants to be an astronomer and design robots for future Mars expeditions.

She was joined by a small handful of girls at Anderson High School late Saturday morning as the announcement was made for FIRST’s annual competition.

“I think girls mainly think technology is for nerds,” she said. “But I don’t think so.”

The high schoolers, both male and female, from Madison County will have six weeks to build a robot for  regional competition. The goal is to make it to the finals in St. Louis.

Last year, the Madison County team won the Boilmaker Regional, securing a spot at the finals. The regionals for this group are in Cincinnati and Knoxville.

“There is a new game every year, but there are some elements of consistency,” said professional mentor Judge Morton. “A portion of the competition is automated at every round with no human interaction. The robot must do a series of tasks that involves programming. Then there is a game, but it’s fairly complex.”

The competition this year is called “Rebound Rumble.”

Robots must make baskets or balance on teetering bridges in order to score points. In each round, an alliance of three robots from different teams must work together. Additional points are given for working with the opposing team.

Morton, who works at Amacor, joins the team for the second year in a row as one of the professional mentors. He got involved through word of mouth.

“My son (Abram) is a big tech geek,” Morton said. “He’s really into it.”

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, an inventor, entrepreneur and advocate of science and technology.

Organizers say the FIRST Robotic Competition started in 2000 as a way to transform culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated.

Kamen’s goal is to have technology become as much a part of popular culture as football.

“Until they’re making fun of you on late-night TV, you’re not a part of pop culture,” Kamen said during the competition kickoff broadcast, which aired to teams.

Student teams from around the world build and program robots with help from professional mentors in order to compete in a robot game.

“It fosters a great amount of teamwork and cooperation,” Morton said. “Ninety-three percent of team members have gone on to some college.”

Many of the college-bound students that participated on a robotics teams also earned scholarships.

Competition isn’t cheap, though.

“It costs $5,000 (for a team) to enter your first competition and $4,000 for any after that,” Morton said. “We’ll be going to Knoxville in March and Cincinnati in April.”

Teams receive a starter kit with random parts from various sponsors to help get started. This year’s kit includes an Xbox 360 Kinect from Microsoft.

“It takes a lot of grant writing and sponsors to make this work,” Morton said. “But it really teaches kids to think outside the box.”

Dan Newby, owner of DRN Machine, has helped the team for the last 13 years. Students do a majority of the fabrication and building at his machine shop under his guidance.

“We want them to imagine,” Newby said. “At school they are not asked to use their imagination. At home they’re not asked to use their imagination. We want to hear them think.”

Contact April Abernathy: 640-4861,

Text Only
Local Education
  • Ellspermann, Susan Ellspermann to deliver AU commencement address Indiana Lt. Gov. Susan Ellspermann will address the Anderson University Class of 2014 during commencement exercises on Saturday, May 10.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • FEA HB0421 Silent Movie 1 Acting without words Nineteen area students will take a walk down the red carpet Tuesday evening as their film projects premiere at the Paramount Theatre during the WRC Silent Film Festival.

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • 2014 Debutante Cotillion participants

    The 11 participants in this year’s Debutante Cotillion Beautillion Militaire were asked a variety of questions, including their influences, words that describe themselves and favorite “words to live by.” The event begins at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at Madison Park Church of God, 6607 Providence Drive. Call Antoinette Davis at 620-2229 for tickets, which are $270 per table or $30 each.

    April 19, 2014

  • NWS-HB0419-IvyTech-JC2.JPG Work begins on new Ivy Tech facility

    Motorists driving on East 60th Street near Columbus Avenue will notice heavy machinery working in preparation for a new educational facility in Anderson.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Many schools see increases in IREAD scores More Madison County schools reported preliminary IREAD-3 test results Friday and, for the most part, officials were pleased with the results.

    April 18, 2014

  • NWS - HB0419 - Bicycle follow - JC 3 Highland staff, students donate more than $1,500 to help classmate's family

    Despite being a fresh face in the halls, students and staff honored Suncerria's memory this week raising more than $1,500 in cash donations and $300 in gift cards as well as a food basket to support her family through their grief.

    April 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • Liberty Christian makes changes to annual auction Liberty Christian School is upping the ante for its upcoming Duck-Tacular event. The school’s annual benefit auction is steering away from past forest themes to “Duck-Tacular,” a nod to the popular A&E show “Duck Dynasty.”

    April 18, 2014

  • Ivy Tech extends deadline for ASAP Ivy tech Community College is extending the application deadline for a special program that allows students to earn an associate degree in 11 months.

    April 18, 2014

  • Students to England to raise funds at luncheon, auction On Saturday, the Students to England 2015 group will be sponsoring a luncheon and auction in the Lapel High School cafeteria/commons area.

    April 17, 2014

  • NWS - HB0528 - IREAD - JC 1.jpg Anderson IREAD-3 test results show improvement

    Two Anderson elementary schools posted double-digit increases in the percentage of third-graders who passed the IREAD-3 test last month, according to preliminary results released by school officials.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide