Though the Hajjar STEM Center won’t open until next fall, there are plenty of STEM-related initiatives already going on at D-E. The D-E robotics team—known as Team 0207—hosted a regional robotics contest October 31 in the Hajjar Auditorium. Dubbed “The Northern Nightmare,” the event brought 11 high school robotics teams from northern New Jersey and beyond.
At the D-E event, teams were challenged with a contest called Cascade Effect. D-E science faculty member and robotics team faculty advisor Dr. Marco Pagnotta explains: “The game is played on a 12-foot by 12-foot field with two teams of two opposing each other. Partners for each match are randomly selected; your ally in one match may be your opponent in the next! The object of the game is to score points by picking up balls from the field and placing them into various towers that range in height from 24 inches to over four feet. Each robot, or ’bot, must start with a size of no more than 18 inches.”
This competition was an official FIRST Tech Challenge, under the auspices of FIRST, a nonprofit founded by inventor Dean Kamen, which stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. FIRST competitions encourage students to work as a team, think outside of the box, and implement their ideas to build a robot (or ’bot) for competing in various tournaments. D-E has been participating in FIRST robotics competitions since 2006.
Dr. Pagnotta notes, “Over the next five months our team has plans to compete in both regional and statewide competitions in both New Jersey and New York.”
Earlier this year, Team 0207 submitted a proposal for a 3-D printer from FIRST. Preparing the grant application was a collaborative effort according to Pagnotta. The process began when Toren Arginteanu ’15 designed a prototype scissor lift for the D-E ’bot using a CAD (computer-aided design) program.
Says Dr. Pagnotta, “While projecting his CAD design on the white board, Team 0207 members were reviewing Toren’s equations for calculating how high the lift could go based on the width of each piece and the number of segments. As a group they argued about and checked the derivation of those equations. I just sat back and was awed. This is what STEM is all about!”
Both the process and the outcome were a success. The students “did the math” correctly and were rewarded with the grant they were seeking.