GHS duo brings in robotics camp for senior project

(Top) Grangeville High School seniors Jacob Vanderwall (far left) and Justin Detweiler (second from right) work at their senior project robotics camp July 21; (above) 5026 Tesla Coil member Trachelle Fullmer (right) helps with some beginning Lego robotics projects.

GRANGEVILLE — Grangeville High School seniors Jacob Vanderwall and Justin Detweiler reined in 25 kids Saturday, July 21. They did have a little help.

As a part of their senior project, the duo invited the group 5026 Tesla Coil to assist. Team 5026 “The Tesla Coils” is a competitive robotics club in Twin Falls.

“We were going to do a school science fair, but there wasn’t really the time to get it together,” Vanderwall said. “We still wanted to do something with science.”

The two were given some advice from teachers and went with the robotics camp.

They went to the community with their idea and raised $500; another $500 was raised when the Modern Woodmen matched their donation of $500. At the end in all, they raised a total of about $1,300.

“Robotics can help with creative thought and problem solving, and we would like to be able for Grangeville Elementary Middle School to have its own program,” Detweiler said.

Neither Vanderwall nor Detweiler had ever participated in a robotics program themselves, but knew the benefits and were interested in what it could bring to Grangeville kids.

They located 5026 Tesla Coils and a group of five made the trip to Grangeville to lead the camp. A morning session of kindergarten through second grade students, six in all, came in the morning and learned to work on the beginner kits made by Lego.

Students built one of four projects: a car, a helicopter, a pollination station and an earthquake tester.

“This is the beginner where they learn to follow the directions, build and program their devices to do what they want them to,” explained 5026 leader Trachelle Fullmer.

“This is the first technical challenge,” explained her daughter, high schooler Amberle Fullmer who got involved in the program seven years ago when her older sister became interested.

“Now it’s definitely a family affair,” Trachelle laughed, saying her husband also helps. Her younger son was also on the trip. Her oldest daughter even received college scholarships for the program.

“It really helps encourage kids in the area of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Amberle said it’s not only building and programming skills, as well as the problem solving and critical thinking, but also the creating of business plans, teamwork and social skills.

“We have what we call ‘gracious professionalism,’” she explained. “We help everyone. We may be competing against them in one segment but competing with them in another round.”

The older kids, grades third through eighth, came in the afternoon – 19 in all – and used larger kits with metal pieces, working in groups to build and program.

A video bit explained the program “doesn’t just create a robot.”

“It’s a universal language whereas a machine has the ability to help build people who will change the world,” the video stated.

Kindergarten student Bridglee Adams and her partner explained how their earthquake detector tested a variety of houses by rocking them back and forth.

“This house,” she held up, “stays up in the earthquake because it has a bigger, sturdy base.”

“Some things didn’t work for us,” Kobe Nadiger, who was also in the younger group, said. “We had to change things.” He and his partner had used their helicopter to release a rope and rescue a panda from a flood.

The afternoon group worked on larger projects with the help of Vanderwall and Detweiler to instill a love for not only robotics, but STEM in general.

“Hopefully they can start some teams at GEMS in the future,” Vanderwall said. “Our plan is to buy some of the Lego kits and some of the more complicated kits with our leftover money.

He and Detweiler also purchased shirts for all camp attendees.

For details, look up 5026 Tesla Coils on Facebook.

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