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AHS launches new Robotics First club

Officers, advisors and members of the Arlington High School Robotics Club are seeking financial and material donations from the community to enable them to participate in a state-wide competition starting in January. - SARAH ARNEY The Arlington Times
Officers, advisors and members of the Arlington High School Robotics Club are seeking financial and material donations from the community to enable them to participate in a state-wide competition starting in January.
— image credit: SARAH ARNEY The Arlington Times

ARLINGTON — To challenge their brains, that’s the reason why nearly 60 Arlington High School students have joined a new club called Robotics First.

“We are going to build a robot,” said club president Emily Johnson.

“The goal is to compete with gracious professionalism. That means no hitting and no bad language. It’s a varsity sport for the mind,” Johnson said.

Composed of a variety of types of kids, the common theme seems to be the desire for something different.

“This is my fun club,” said Maria Reyas, who is also a cheerleader.

Johnson claims to be a jock, and others in the group are band members and artists. The club secretary Brandon Moore runs track.

“I thought the idea of competing with the mind was cool,” Moore said.

Also a member of JROTC, Alvin Moore is in charge of public relations for the club. His reason for joining was more specific.

“I am interested in electrical engineering and decided I could learn a lot from this project,” he said.

The club already has $13,500 in grant money to enable them to participate in a state-wide competition starting in January, but they still need cash to pay their way to the grand finale in Seattle with their invention.

Club mentor Glen Frable is responsible for getting $6,000 from the Boeing Company where he works, and the state Office of Public Instruction provided a grant for $7,500.

As an electrical engineer for Boeing, Frable will guide the electrical team — one of three different teams that will work independently to create the elements of the robot before they are assembled.

AHS business teacher Brett Sarver will guide the business team and Jim Bassett will guide the software team. The school district’s technology manager, Mark Ehrhardt, is also helping as a mentor.

The competition starts Jan. 3, when they receive their package of basic materials, rules and instructions. The teams will then read the rules and start to plan a strategy. They have until Feb. 17 to build the best robot in the state.

“We’ll get some boxes full of parts but not everything we’ll need,” Frable said.

“We need aluminum.”

To that end, they invited all the manufacturing companies around Arlington to attend a meeting on Dec. 10 to learn about the project. They invited Absolute Manufacturing Company, Newell Manufacturing Company, AMT and ABW, Sarver said.

They have already started collecting materials, and they will need more money, too, to pay for transportation and a hotel in Seattle during the competition.

If they place in the state competition they will then compete with 1,500 teams nationwide in Atlanta, but that’s jumping ahead.

Last year, the challenge was to create a robot that could pick up a big exercise ball, Frable said. The father of two AHS graduates who are now studying accounting at Washington State University, Frable said he’d been thinking about getting involved with some project at AHS ever since his daughters graduated.

“I emailed a proposal to the principal last summer,” he said. He got help from the faculty and then they started recruiting students, resulting with almost 60 members.

“I am thrilled to work with two of the smartest guys I know,” Frable said about the teachers. “It’s amazing how smart these kids are, too.”

The purpose of the project is to get kids excited about science, girls and boys.

“We are excited to have a lot of young ladies, too.”

Frable said since Sarver inspired his twin daughters to study accounting, he felt the need to inspire some other kids in science.

“I hope that these kids will experience the thrill of technology and science. It’s good because it brings all the technologies together.”

The students will use the high school shop to build their robot, beginning even before school starts after the holidays. “We expect to have something rolling by the second week of January,” Frable said.

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