Decatur City Schools Robotics

E-News April 2015

This is the April and final edition of the 2014/2015 Robotics Newsletter. Decatur City Schools has a robotics club in every elementary and middle school as well as DARC (the Decatur Austin Robotics Coalition), a high school team made up of students from both Austin and Decatur High Schools.

ACTE Competition Results!!!

Students who won 1st or 2nd Place advanced to the state ACTE competition that was held at Calhoun Community College at 8:00 AM on Saturday, April 25th.


Jamar Echols was awarded 3rd place Level II Hardware and Robotics, Brookhaven Middle School


The Oak Park Competitive Robotics class enjoyed a lot of success at the recent ACTE competition, capturing first-place in the individual and group Grade 7/8 Robotics category, along with first-place in the sixth-grade individual robotics category.


Joe May and Isaac Englund- 1st Place Group Robotics- Spy Bot (a remotely-controlled bot that has a Go-Pro camera mounted on it along with a claw to pick up objects)

Bill Collins- 1st Place Individual Robotics- Sentry Guard (remotely controlled tank that shoots ammunition)

Hunter Greenwell- 2nd Place Individual Robotics- Light Changer (assists the disabled by changing a light bulb in a socket and flipping the light switch)

Chandler Bryant- 3rd Place Individual Robotics- Crane Bot (lifts and stacks blocks)


Elijah Frazier- 1st Place Individual Robotics - Slithering (robotic snake used to gain students' attention and teach them about snakes)


Two of Oak Park's robotics projects won at state ACTE competition
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Cedar Ridge robotics students received recognition recently while participating in the regional and state Alabama Council for Technology in Education Fairs.

Delroy Tulloch, Wesley Lowman and Myles Bailey placed second in the region to advance to the state level.

Other teams that competed in Hardware and Robotics at the regional level and received recognition were:

Noah Flood and Zach Morrison, third place

Joseph Augustus and Kyler Allred, Honorable Mention

Luke Green, Jonatan Mendez, and Gauge Mata, Honorable Mention

Grayson Fogg, Lawson Farris, and Joshua Mishalanie, Honorable Mention


Delroy Tulloch, Wesley Lowman and Myles Bailey took home first place in Hardware and Robotics. Wesley Lowman also received Honorable Mention on the information technology test at the state competition.

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Chestnut Grove participated in ACTE for the first time with amazing results!!

Level I: 1st place - Sam Higgins, Kelly Holmes, and Katie Hight

2nd place - Jackson Fulks, Crawford Lang, Bo Pegram, and Joshua Rugebregt

Honorable Mention - Reagan Atkins, Audrey Hight, and Joshua Hughes

Level II: Honorable Mention - Hugh Evans, Jeb Lowman, Colby Reeves, and Caleb Murry


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Austinville Elementary School, Jeffrey Gilbreath, Sponsor

Meets Tuesdays from 2:30-3:30

Banks-Caddell Elementary School, Joy Martin and Whitney Eddy, Sponsors

Meets twice a month after school on Wednesdays.

Benjamin Davis Elementary School, Caroline Weems, Sponsor

Benjamin Davis Robotics Students are competing in Jr. FLL this year!

In 1998, FIRST® Founder Dean Kamen and the LEGO® Group’s Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen joined forces to create FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®), a powerful program that helps children discover the fun in science and technology through the FIRST experience. In 2004, Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) was introduced as a pilot experience for younger children, ages 6-9.

Jr.FLL captures young children’s inherent curiosity and directs it toward discovering the wonders of science and technology. Jr.FLL features a real-world Challenge, solved by research, critical thinking and imagination. Guided by adult coaches and the Jr.FLL Core Values, students work with LEGO elements and moving parts to build ideas and concepts and present them for review.

Chestnut Grove Elementary School, Kristi Adams and Mary Kate Collins, Sponsors

Meets before school every Thursday 7:15-7:50

Eastwood Elementary School, Melissa Dickman, Jennie Roberts, Margaret Greer, Teresa Oakley,Patti Wilkins, Sponsors

Meets after school Thursday (monthly)
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Eastwood Junior Robotics (3rd grade)

Francis Nungester Elementary School, Allison Sain and Sara Clifton, Sponsors

Meets Tuesday and Thursday 2:50-3:50

Julian Harris Elementary School, Jerry McRae, Sponsor

Meets the last Thursday of each month from 3:00-4:30

Leon Sheffield Elementary Magnet School, Kent Sanders and Laurie Corson, Sponsors

Meets every Tuesday from 2:45-3:45

Somerville Road Elementary School, Shena Ivey, Sponsor

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The students are completing an exploration Wrap-Up kit activity with Maria Young from AMSTI.

Walter Jackson Elementary School, Leah Payne, Sponsor

Meets every Monday from 2:30 until 4:00.
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West Decatur Elementary School, Shannon Posey, Sponsor

5th Grade Robotics

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4th Grade Robotics

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Woodmeade Elementary School, Cristy Brown and Tonya Russell, Sponsors

Meets on Tuesdays from 2:45-4:00.Woodmeade alternates weeks between 2-3 Wedo groups and 4-5 Mindstorm groups.
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EV3 Robotics Resources- from Robin Gillespie @ Oak Park


Brookhaven Middle School, Tom Irwin, Sponsor

Brookhaven Students chose a tug of war for their next challenge. This will focus students skill on engineering/building rather than programming. Student will explore the use use of gears and gear ratios to obtain an advantage over the competition. This will be the last competition for these students this semester. Next week students will begin sorting parts and putting every thing a way until after Christmas break.

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Cedar Ridge Middle School, Tammy Pickens, Sponsor

Cedar Ridge Robotics Students tour ULA and Calhoun Robotics Center

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Oak Park Middle School, Robin Gillespie, Sponsor

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Oak Park's FLL team 2014-2015

Front row: Hunter Greenwell, Eli Burns, Wim Vandiver, Jackson Peters

Back row: Will Dinsmore, Issac Englund, Bill Collins, Joe May, Chandler Bryant


Hunter Greenwell and Eli Burnes look over the new VEX playing field and the clawbot that they built with their new VEX robotics kits. Students are working to solve the VEX high-rise challenge by using the clawbots to stack cubes and build the highest possible tower within a 2-minute time period.
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Oak Park at Pathfinders Symposium

Here are pictures of the Oak Park robotics exhibit at the Pathfinders Symposium that was held at the Von Braun Center on Wednesday, March 18th. Students shared some of their robotics projects and had the opportunity to see what other middle/high schools were doing in robotics. Additionally, representatives of various military departments and vendors had an opportunity to see what schools were doing with robotics. It was a fun time for all involved!

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Oak Park and Cedar Ridge Middle Schools participated in FLL this year.

The best way to summarize FIRST LEGO League is to say that it is a robotics program for 9 to 16 year olds (9 to 14 in US/CAN/MEX), which is designed to get children excited about science and technology -- and teach them valuable employment and life skills. Teams, composed of up to ten students with at least one adult coach, can also be associated with a pre-existing club or organization, homeschooled, or just be a group of friends who wish to do something awesome.

In FLL, the students do the work! And the work is programming an autonomous robot (using the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robot set) to score points on a thematic playing surface, creating an innovative solution to a problem as part of their project, all while being guided by the FLL Core Values. These three elements - the Robot Game, Project, and FLL Core Values - make up what we call the FLL yearly Challenge.


The Decatur Austin Robotics Coalition (DARC), Susan Haddock, Sponsor; Ian Lamb, Asst. Coach

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DARC at TVB Competition

Auburn SSI

We are preparing for our fourth year of the Auburn University Summer Science Institute (SSI). SSI is a FREE 6-day summer residential program at AU that targets exceptional students from Alabama and Georgia who are currently in 10th or 11th grade and are interested in a future career in the sciences. The dates are May 31 - June 6. Those who are chosen to participate (there are up to 24 slots) will have the opportunity to work with over a dozen of the best and brightest science and math faculty at Auburn. The students will get a rare inside look at the fascinating research that takes place at a Research–1 institution and will learn cutting–edge techniques in biology, chemistry, physics, geology, and mathematics. For your college bound students, this is a great resume builder! Students who have participated in SSI say it is a life-changing experience for them.

We need your help! If you have an outstanding student (minimum ACT 28 or combined SAT 1850) that you think could benefit from this experience, we’re asking you to give them the link to the application packet at These are due by January 31 and require some work from the applicants to complete.

Thank you for your help in providing this unique opportunity to your students. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me.

Mary Lou Ewald

Auburn University

Director, Science and Math Outreach

Director, Science in Motion

College of Sciences and Mathematics

131 SCC Bldg

Auburn University, AL 36849

phone: 334-444-1513

fax: 334-844-5740

SAME Camps

Eligibility for SAME Camps:
To qualify for consideration, students must meet the following criteria:
1.Student must be a U.S. Citizen.
2.The student must be at least 15 years old and have completed their freshman year of high school at the time he/she departs for camp.
3.The student must still be enrolled in school at the time of the camp.
4.Be on a high school track that will provide a basis for attending an accredited engineering college or university (i.e., taking appropriate math and science courses).
5.Have an expressed intent to pursue a degree in architecture, engineering or a related field.
6.Have demonstrated leadership characteristics through participation in extra-curricular activities, sports, and/or community activities.
7.Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 GPA scale.
8.Be physically fit and healthy (not have any physical limitations including, but not limited to the following: a requirement to take mandatory medication that requires special handling; sprained joints; or, neck, shoulder, or back injuries).
9.Be of high moral character.
10.Students who have attended an SAME Engineering and Construction Camp prior to this year will not be eligible to attend the same camp. Students are eligible to attend a specific camp once only.
11.Students must be sponsored by a local SAME Post. Please see the Camp Application Process for details.

GEMS Camps

All students who are selected and successfully participate in GEMS qualify for an educational stipend ($100 per week).

The GEMS program at the U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Research, Development & Engineering Center (AMRDEC) - Redstone Arsenal, AL is open to the public for rising 8th-12th graders. All participants must be United States Citizens or U.S. Permanent Legal Residents. All participants are eligible for an educational stipend. In 2015, AMRDEC GEMS programs will be hosted at the beginning (GEMS I) and advanced levels (GEMS III).

Near-Peer Mentors and Resource Teachers
The AMRDEC GEMS program utilizes Near-Peer Mentors (NPM) and Resource Teachers (RT). Interested applicants must be available during all GEMS sessions and potentially for additional paid training days.

2015 Program Dates
GEMS I (rising 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th & 12th grade)
* Jun 8-12
* Jun 15-19
GEMS III (completed GEMS I & II and demonstrated high interest in STEM)
* Jun 22-26
* Jul 20-24
Near-Peer Mentor Program
* Jun 1-Aug 7
Resource Teacher Program
* Jun 1-Aug 7

Army Educational Outreach Opportunities

The Army Educational Outreach Program has a number of STEM programs available for students and teachers:

Alabama Council for Technology in Education (ACTE) NW Regional Competition

Friday, April 10th, 9pm

Calhoun Community College

RSVPs are enabled for this event.