Seven students from the Sacred Heart School have received an award for their “Talon One” – a robot built within two months from raw materials. “Talon One” was entered at the 5th annual Connecticut BEST (Boosting Engineering Science and Technology) Robotics Competition in Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.
“It was fun,” Matthew Koniecko, who is in the eight-grade and the design and engineering leader of the team. “Difficult in some way, but it’s mostly fun.” The team first made cardboard prototypes to test the design, throwing away many ideas that did not work, he said. The last design features plywood wheels, a swiveling grasping claw and an extendable arm made of PVC pipes.
It is the first time that the school has participated in a robotics competition, and its young team competed against older and more experienced students from Montville, Waterbury, Stony Brook, Long Island and other areas. The students competing were all in sixth grade through 12. The team from Sacred Heart comprised of two eighth-graders, one seventh-grader and four sixth-graders.
Christine Wasielewski, a Sacred Heart teacher of enhancement and religion who coached the team, was overwhelmed. “We had to basically cut everything out ourselves. The students looked at the brain component, with the BEST joystick and the controller and the little servo motors, and they said, ‘Oh, we could do this,’” she said.
“We were very, very good at the cone competition, and that was our strategy,” said Mrs. Wasielewski. Mrs. Katherine Muller, the school’s principal, claimed that the team was very happy just to have a working robot when the competition started.