Keith Robinson Brings Boy Scouts to VEX Robotics

On Tuesday, Keith Robinson, Instructor in Biology and Chemistry, invited around 10 third grade Boy Scouts to a VEX robotics meeting, where a few students demonstrated how robotics works and what becoming a part of a robotics team entails.Whether it was designing or building the robots, the VEX team members have the Boy Scouts a variety of demonstrations.

At the beginning of the event, the team showed off a robot that was fairly large and contained many motors. VEX team members explained to the young visitors that each motor was able to perform a different type of movement.

After showing the functions of the parts of the robot, the Boy Scouts were split into two groups and given the opportunity to build their own robots. One group drew out the robot, and the other brought this robot to life.

Henry Wall, a scout who helped build the robot, said, “I like the way that this robot can pick things up and move them. It’s cool to see it being built.”

After the robot was completed, each boy was able to drive the robot with a remote control. When they started, each driver crashed into walls and cones that were set up in a small arena on the floor, but with the help of the VEX team, they learned to keep the robot under control.

Matt Robinson, another Boy Scout, said his favorite part of the demonstration was when he was able to operate the larger and more complex robot.

Robinson said, “I like robots, I like technology, it’s all just super cool.”

After the scouts were able to drive the robots, the VEX team members showed a video which explained how their competitions work: each team has a robot, and the robot is able to pick up and place cones on a rubber weight. In the corner of the square arena, there are three sections, with the farthest back awarding the team more points. The more cones a team can collect, the more points they are awarded.

According to Bill Qin ’19, one of the students leading the demonstration, one of the VEX team’s goals was to impress upon the visiting Boy Scouts that teamwork is a necessary part of building and successfully using a robot.

“Robotics isn’t something that one person can do… there are a lot of parts to it. They saw that you have to drive, build, design, and everything. You can’t do that alone. Having a team is one of the biggest deals and I hope they take away that,” said Qin.

Many of the Boy Scouts who came to Andover for the event had already shown interest in robotics and had designed their own robots before. Both Robinson and Wall shared the fact that they had both created robots out of legos in the past.

“I’ve made a few simple ones, sort of like the Lego robotic ones,” said Robinson.

Wall said, “I had a few [robots], and I have one right now that’s a Lego.”

All of the members of the VEX robotics team agree that it is important to introduce younger people to STEM, especially to robotics.

Qin said, “Having exposure especially at such a young age is really important because getting into robotics and engineering early is really good… [It helps you understand] really what it is, because there are lots of myths about the laws of robotics. I think having exposure to it gives them a grasp of whether or not they want to do it in the future.”