Decatur City Schools Robotics

E-News February 2015

This is the February edition of the 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.


See more pictures and competition details in the Oak Park Middle School section of the newsletter!
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The Robotics Expo is March 3rd!!!!!

The 2nd annual Decatur City Schools' Robotics Expo will be held on March 3rd from 5:30-6:30. This event was so successful last year that it was moved to Ingall's Harbor where there will be plenty of display space and parking for everyone!

Several businesses/ educational institutions that are planning summer Lego camps will have a display at the expo to hand out brochures and info to students and parents. Make sure to invite parents, faculty, and administration.


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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.
Robotics students at Banks Caddell are working on the EV3 sorter. They have completed all of the robots in the We Do kits and are looking forward to the Expo!

Benjamin Davis Elementary School, Caroline Weems, Sponsor

Working on our drumming monkeys!

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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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


As novice participants in the First LEGO League (FLL) tournament, the Oak Park Red Raiders weren't sure how they would fare in the competition. There was no need to worry. Team members Bill Collins, Eli Burnes, Chandler Bryant, Wim Vandiver, Will Dinsmore, Jackson Peters, Isaac Englund, Hunter Greenwell, and Joe May represented Decatur City Schools extremely well in the state FLL competition held at Grissom High School on Saturday, January 24th, winning a First Place trophy in Best Mechanical Design! Along the route to victory during the competition, Oak Park team members had a blast solving the instant challenge to build a 2-D robot out of 100 pennies, showing off their innovative "Radical Adventures of Hackstorm" digital math game, and impressing judges with their discussion and display of mechanical design and robot performance. It was a long and exhausting day, beginning at 7:30 AM and concluding at 6:00 PM, but the Oak Park team smiled and performed beautifully throughout the event, even jumping on the floor to get the crowd started dancing while waiting for judges' scores! Way to go, Raiders!


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 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 Robo Camp

Registration is open for the spring 2015 Robo Camp, a program developed by Auburn University's Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering to introduce students ages 10-17 to computer science and computational thinking concepts. Camp participants will be familiarized with hands-on applications of computer programming and robotics using a variety of computer programs. No prior computing experience is required.

Camp will be held Saturday, Feb. 7, 14, 21 and 28 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Shelby Center computer labs. The fee is $185 and registration is limited. For more information or to register for camp, visit here or contact Daniela Marghitu at 334.844.6386.

We hope your students will participate in this opportunity.

War Eagle!
Jessica Taylor
Engineering Recruiter

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

E-Day At Auburn University

We invite students considering a career in engineering to join us on February 27th and feel the excitement of Alabama's premier engineering educational experience. Auburn Engineering's annual open house gives students a chance to learn about our campus, our programs and the incredible opportunities Auburn's Samuel Ginn College of Engineering offers.

Seventh through twelfth graders have opportunities to chat one-on-one with students and faculty, experience interactive exhibits, and visit classes and labs, including the new Shelby Center for Engineering Technology. They can also tour the beautiful Auburn campus, and learn about admissions, scholarships, financial aid and residence life.

Information can be found at

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:

Decatur City School's Robotics Expo

Tuesday, March 3rd, 5:30pm

701 Market St NW

Decatur, AL

RSVPs are enabled for this event.