Out with the old

Members of Fort Gibson High School’s robotics team, Hostile Gato, dismantle a robot they entered in last year’s FIRST Robotics competition. They are planning a new robot for this year’s competition. 

So far, this year’s Hostile Gato team robot is only a dream.

Fort Gibson High School’s robotics team has five weeks to turn this dream into a unit capable of moving objects and getting around obstacles.

The team will enter its finished robot in the FIRST Robotics Competition, scheduled around spring break in mid-March, said Tim Berres, the team’s coach.

Members of the Hostile Gato robotics team meet for several hours after school twice a week and sometimes on Saturdays.

More students than ever are getting involved in the competition.

Berres said about 31 students are involved in this year’s program.

“It’s grown every year, pretty steadily,” he said.

FGHS senior Becca Wells said she got involved last year while taking Berres’ calculus class.

“I’ve always been interested in STEM and technology,” Wells said, referring to science, technology, engineering and math.

She said that, at first, she didn’t know anything about using tools.

“I had never worked with tools,” she said.

Wells said she was able to use some of her calculus while measuring for last year’s robots.

Does that mean team members must be math experts?

“Not by any stretch,” Berres said.

This is the fifth year for the team to enter the FIRST Robotics Competition, which challenges high school students to build a robot and enter it into competition.

The competition, which involves 60 Oklahoma teams this year, measures the effectiveness of each robot, teamwork, collaboration and professionalism, according to a media release.

Hostile Gato team members got details of this year’s competition, FIRST STRONGHOLD, earlier this month.

“They also give us a few parts that are donated,” Berres said. “But we don’t have to use them.”

Instead, Hostile Gato’s robot could be made of any number of things.

“We use car parts, items from a robotics store; we get metal from places such as Wheeler Metals,” Berres said.

The team spent part of last week dismantling the robot from last year’s competition and making prototypes for this year’s model.

Wells recalled the challenge she had with last year’s robot.

“We had a few problems,” she said. “It’s a learning experience.”

Josh Stevens spent part of Thursday’s session attaching a 48-inch metal pipe to a board.

“I’m trying to make an easy way to put braces on the board,” he said.

“The braces will hold the pipe so it could pivot the board.”

When not competing in FIRST, team members make robots for other reasons and seasons.

For example, they made a robot that shoots T-shirts into crowds during football games.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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