Chaffin robotics team delivers cargo to space station

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 179 views 

The Chaffin Junior High School BEST Robotics team on Tuesday (Oct. 30) demonstrated their “space elevator” to about 75 students from Barling, Bonneville, Euper Lane and Woods Elementary Schools.

The demonstration was held at the Goldtrap-Gardner Boys and Girls Club in Fort Smith.

Student “robotics engineers” from area schools are hoping to compete in the Frontier Trails regional BEST – Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology – robotics competition on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. The regional event, held at the Stubblefield Center at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, is intended to provide “demonstrations of skill, imagination and problem-solving abilities,” according to a UAFS statement.

Before the regional competition, 11 area teams will compete Nov. 3 in the River Valley BEST competition, also held at the UAFS Stubblefield Center. The opening ceremony is set for 8 a.m., with competition planned to begin at 8:15 a.m., and an awards ceremony planned for 4 p.m. The event is open to the public.

This game title for the River Valley BEST competition is “WARP XX” and is geared toward the concept of designing and operating a “space elevator.”

“The teams have to replenish and maintain a midway space station, the first stop on the trip to space just above the earth's atmosphere,” John Martini, an assistant professor of technology at UAFS, explained in a UAFS press release.

River Valley BEST participating teams from Fort Smith are: Southside and Northside High Schools, Kimmons/Darby Junior High, Chaffin Junior High and Western Arkansas Technical Center at UAFS.

Other Arkansas schools include: Fayetteville Public Schools, Mansfield Middle School and Waldron Middle School. Participating from Oklahoma are: Webster Middle School in Oklahoma City, Muldrow/Gans, and Friends in Robotics Exploration in Claremore, Okla.

Amy Markham, sponsor of the Chaffin BEST team, said the “story” behind her team is they are aliens helping Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin transfer energy from the moon to the earth.

“And when we prove how it works, we sell it to them (the earth),” Markham explained with a smile.

How it works is motors allow a basket to collect “cargo balls.” The robot, using the motor power, then climbs to the “space station” to deposit the cargo. In the competition, the teams attempt to deliver the most cargo balls to the space station within a set time. With the exception of the motors and remote control equipment, the robot, stand, space station and other components are designed and built by the students. The students also develop an engineering notebook that documents the entire process.

The Chaffin team is “Claws Inc.” – Chaffin Lunar Aeronautical Warp-Speed Shipping.

Following Tuesday’s demonstration to the elementary students, Claws Inc. members Josh Cormier and Collin DeLung answered several questions from the students.