Fulton High School robotics team off to strong start

Fulton High School sophomore Alex Zajdel, left, and sophomore Miles Johnson tinker with a robot in class Friday. The robotics club, which builds a robot to perform specific types of tasks in competition, has already utilized the new equipment from the fab lab. The blue bracket, seen just below Zajdel’s wrist, was made with a new 3D printer.

Fulton High School sophomore Alex Zajdel, left, and sophomore Miles Johnson tinker with a robot in class Friday. The robotics club, which builds a robot to perform specific types of tasks in competition, has already utilized the new equipment from the fab lab. The blue bracket, seen just below Zajdel’s wrist, was made with a new 3D printer.

As the final bell rang at Fulton High School on Friday afternoon, most students hurried out the doors — eager to get home and get ready for the winter homecoming festivities that night.

Back in the new fabrication lab, however, a small group of students involved with Fulton’s new robotics program was hard at work building and testing its robot for an upcoming regional competition in St. Louis in March.

The school received word this week it has been awarded a $2,450 grant from the Missouri Society of Professional Engineers — money engineering teacher and robotics team sponsor Jim Hall said will help the robotics team achieve that goal.

Noting the cost of accumulating all of the tools and parts necessary for the group’s projects — the sheet of aluminum used for the outer shell of the bottom level of the robot alone costs $80 — Hall said the grant likely will be used to purchase materials for the robotics team.

Asked how having the fabrication lab has met expectations, Hall said he was pleased with what his students have accomplished thus far, and especially with their enthusiasm for their work.

“I think it’s exceeded in that we’ve had students not even in the class coming after school to see what it’s about and how they can get into it, we have students staying after school to work on projects,” Hall said.

His response to a query regarding his favorite thing about the fab lab was similar.

“I’ve enjoyed learning everything, figuring everything out — it’s like getting to come play every day,” Hall said. “It’s really a lot of fun when you have students that want to stay after and put extra time in.”

The members of the robotics team tinkering with their robot Friday afternoon were equally enthusiastic.

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