South Side robotics team wins


South Side Middle School’s Robotics Club took the “First Place Teamwork Award” at the First Lego League Robotics Competition held on Feb. 1. Club members were confronted with problems they had never seen before and required to figure out solutions.

“I was shocked when the kids were able to come away from their first robotics competition with an award for teamwork,” said Ryan Bockleman, a SSMS technology teacher and the club’s advisor. “It really shows what the kids are capable of when they put their heads together.”

The first problem asked students to hold a pole across two outstretched fingers each and lower it to the ground without dropping it or curling their fingers around it. SSMS student Dan Ryan took charge and came up with what the judges nicknamed the “3-2-1-GO” solution: Dan would count aloud and the team would move to a certain point that he pre-determined, then the process was repeated until they reached the ground.

In the Nature’s Fury project, teams were required to identify communities that could experience natural disasters and problems that arise when disasters occur, and to then create an innovative solution that helps people prepare for, stay safe during or rebuild after a disaster.

South Side’s team identified falling tree branches knocking out wires during storms, and noted that by wrapping a large tarp around a tree to contain the branches, communities could help stop electrical outages. The tarp system was named the “Tree Hugger,” and is first attached around the base of the tree by means of a large hole and a zipper. Once secured around the base of the trunk, ropes with weights are thrown over the top of the tree to wrap the tarp around it. Finally, of the ropes are tied together at the bottom enclosing the tree.

“With the use of Tree Huggers, we can reduce the amount of power outages to a fraction of what they are now,” said SSMS team member Sivesh Mohan. “No longer will families need to go days without being able to take hot showers, keep food cold, or have heat.”

Ryan concurred. “Families will install the Tree Huggers and the power companies will supply them to each home,” he said. “This way, power companies can protect their investments in the power lines and families reduce their chances of losing power.”