NEW PALESTINE — Getting a robot to stack cones sounds like fun, but the task is easier said than done.
Members of the New Palestine High School Robotics Club must come up with a way to perform the operation using a device as they compete in VEX Robotics tournaments across the state.
Vex Robotics competitors are issued a list of specifications to design and build their robots, which they pit against other teams in a game-based engineering challenge.
This year’s challenge is called “In the Zone,” during which students will try to get their robots to stack cones.
The New Palestine teams are prepping for tournaments: one at Warren Central Walker Career Center and another at Greenfield-Central High School on Saturday.
The teams are coached by Dave Post, technology education teacher, with help from Dan Ginther, a retired engineering teacher who started the club years ago.
Post, who started teaching at the school three years ago, works with many of the students during the day focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, STEM skills, the students can then use to build their robots and compete in the extracurricular activity.
“These are the future engineering Hall of Famers right here,” Post said. “I tell the kids that all the time.”
Post is proud of the work his students are doing with 3-D printing and other state-of-the-art technology tools, building their own design and watching it change throughout the year.
While he and Ginther might jump in and help when asked during their club sessions after school, for the most part, the students work on their robots together to get them in top form to compete.
Evan Shaw, a junior, said he enjoys being part of the robotics club. He plans to be a computer scientist and said being part of the club lets him work on skills he plans to use in the future.
The most important thing about the club is it gives the students a chance to test their STEM skills and compete against other students, Post said.
Most of his students are highly academic and good problem-solvers, but getting a chance to compete allows them to work under pressure and compare themselves to other top minds in the state.
Ethan Stacey, a senior, said getting the chance to work with other like-minded students is the draw.
He’s been a part of the club all four years in high school and feels being part of the club will help him be a better computer scientist in the future.
“You have to learn and try to master a different program each year,” Stacey said.
The New Palestine students will compete in seven VEX competitions before the school year is out with the goal of improving their robot each time.