To keep our newsletter concise, we had to choose from the students' submissions. This page is to share the posts that didn't make it to the print edition.

January, 2019 Newsletter Submissions

NASA probe landing on Mars

NASA created a probe called InSight that is preparing to begin its mission of mapping out the interior of the Red Planet after its successful touchdown last week. This $1 billion project will deploy three different devices to help scientists gain more knowledge of Mars. The first device is a set of seismometers that can measure surface movements which will record vibrations and show the nature and layout of Mars rock composition.The second instrument will dig 16 feet into the ground to discover the temperature. This will show scientists how much heat is being produced from decaying radioactive elements in the core. The last device will use radio transmissions to calculate how much the planet wobbles on its axis. This will help scientists determine the size of the Mars core and the composition of it. Rain Irshad, a developer of the InSight, stated, “ This is our first opportunity to look deep inside another planet.” -Olivia A.

Get to Know Our Captains

Q: Tell me about yourself.

BP: I am a senior at LaBrae High School. I play in the band, run in cross country, and do track. I plan on attending Case Western Reserve University or Ohio State in the fall for engineering. I have a beautiful girlfriend named Chelsea and we’ve been together for three and a half years. (Fun Fact: She is also a member of Robovikes.)

NS: I’m a junior. I’m in band, SADD, Prep Bowl and Viking Volunteers. I have a girlfriend named Olivia who is also in robotics. I’ve always loved making things myself, I enjoy taking nothing and making something out of it. That’s why I think I’m such a good fit for this organization.

Q: Why did you decide to join LaBrae’s robotics team, Robovikes, and how long have you been a team member?

BP: I’ve been a team member for five years. I decided to join Robovikes because Mr. Slifka told me he was starting a robotics club, and I was interested in STEM, so I joined.

NS: I loved Slifka’s 7th grade class, I’ve always been a building and computer nerd so it seemed like a match made in heaven. I’ve been in Robovikes for five years.

Q: In a group-orientated environment such as Robovikes, what role do you take on besides being a leader?

BP: I focus on design and conceptual development. My job is to study more of the “big picture” ideas and how we should approach a project.

NS: I‘ve always been a builder, and i’ve always dabbled in programming too.

Q: Describe a typical day for you at robotics practice.

BP: I insult Smitty, just kidding, just kidding. [laughs] First we start as a large group discussing what we would like to get done today. From there, we split into groups of three or four that specialize - focus on one part of the project. Insult Smitty again, then bicker with Smitty about how wrong he is. Love you Smitty. [more laughs]

NS: We start with the run through by Slifka, then I dive right into planning, then building, whatever the big project is for the day. And then at the end we wrap up, and think about what we are going to do with that for the next week.

Q: What has being in robotics taught you?

BP: It’s taught me how to communicate and work with others effectively, and have patience. Patience is key to the success of any team.

NS: Patience. [laughs] Everyone expects instant gratification, but when you spend weeks and weeks doing something, not only does the result feel more rewarding, but you also learn a lot from dozens of failures and tiny successes throughout.

Q: Who or what inspires you, and why?

BP: Mr. Slifka because he deals with my nonsense every day, whether it is me pulling pranks on him or vice versa. He always has a snarky comeback that leaves me razzled. He’s the best teacher I’ve ever had.

NS: Adam Savage, he’s a builder and a nerd just like me. The only difference: he has more money to be a nerd than I do.

Q: Nathan, what are your plans for the team’s future?

NS: I definitely want to jump into it sooner. We kinda moseyed around the first few weeks, I want to get right into it. Definitely more outreach activities, and maybe one day, multiple FTC competitions.

Q: Brady, what advice would you give to new or future team members?

BP: Be patient, the road to success is paved with potholes and construction. You can’t expect everything to run smoothly at your first go, expect the worst, pray for the best.

Q: What is one thing people don’t know about you?

BP: I like trains. The intricacies and the mechanics are deeply fascinating… I like trains.

NS: I have a black belt. I’ve been doing it since I was eight [martial arts]. It is a big part of who I am, learning to strive for something, never giving up.

Q: If you had one superpower, what would it be?

BP: Invisibility. Your opponents can’t see you coming, you have the element of surprise. All other powers are useless if you can’t see.

NS: Freeze time. That’d just be so fun, I’d never be late.

Q: Tell me five different things you could do with a pencil other than write. GO.

BP: Start a fire, bridge building, use as a spear, reset my calculator, and make a teeter-totter with a book.

NS: Firewood, erase, engrave, self defense, and make a yoyo.

Q: What song is your work jam right now?

BP: “September,” Earth, Wind, and Fire.

NS: “Bat Out Of Hell,” Meat Loaf

Q: What would you name this year’s robot?

BP: “I Can’t Believe We Did It. ®”

NS: “Vindicator.” It actually means that it shows we belong there. This is something we’ve worked for

Since Brady will be graduating this year, I decided to ask our supervisors, Mr. Slifka and Mrs. Farone, for their thoughts.

Q: What would you like to say to Brady since he is graduating this year and leaving Robovikes?

MS: As the great Adam Savage once said, “The only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down.” Mr. Phillips, don’t just build stuff, write stuff down.

MF: Remember, not everyone thinks like you.

RoboVikes since I myself was in 7th grade has changed tremendously, from more people to a whole new competition. Ever since my first year I've loved the environment and all the fun we have every single week. Our past competitions are nothing compared to this year. Going from 1st place trophies and medals, to a whole new environment, place, date, and time. Where I see our program in the future? To be more successful in the next few years with the next squad of RoboVikes to carry the torch to FTC. Make Slifka get a trophy case instead of a wall/shelf. Make sure they know who we are as a program and as competitors. We can be just as successful as they make us out to be. And personally the last 5 years I've been in robotics I haven't regretted a second of it. -Johnell D.

Google. Our favorite search engine to up look how to do something and who’s still on “The Voice”. The multibillion-dollar company has 80,000 full-time employees and has recently released it plans on expanding into three buildings, adding about 1.7 million square feet and will provide new jobs for more than 7,000 people. The company hopes to move into the new buildings in 2020 and 2022. Google hopes to make the site it’s new New York headquarters. The first headquarters in New York was a single-person sales office in a Starbucks opened in 2000. The company has grown to more than 7,000 employees and growing not only in the city, but nationwide.

Google is not the only tech company who is taking steps towards expansion. Apple has announced it will be opening businesses in four cities. It plans on spending $1 billion dollars in Austin, Texas alone and creating 5,000 new jobs. Amazon has stated that it plans on opening new offices in Arlington, Virginia and New York as well. Between the two cities, the company proposed to spend $2.1 billion dollars and employ 25,000 people. -Casey H.

Roombas are a common robot that could be used daily. Roombas are machines that are programmed to roam omnidirectionally around on flat surfaces and pick up dirt. The robots we make are very similar to Roombas during the autonomous period of the games we participate in. An autonomous period is where our robot is not controlled by a person, but a program downloaded from a computer. So, we, as high schoolers in Robovikes, are making slightly clunkier Roombas, which one could think is really cool. -Mara K.

RoboVikes has only been in existence for a few minuscule years. In those first couple of years we only participated in NEOREP, where robots are made out of LEGO. Our insightful coach has decided that we should move to FTC because of success in NEOREP. FTC, he believes, will help us grow as a team, which it has thus far. So this is our first year attempting FTC. The application to the competition, in its own right, is very expensive, not to mention the multitude of supplies that needed to be bought. Thankfully our generous donors have granted us enough money to pay for our current expenses, but we will need more donations should we continue the FTC competition, which we hope to do. -Mara K.

This is my first year joining RoboVikes, and sadly the last year that I can do it because I have had so much fun this year with the group and I wish I would’ve joined earlier. Every meeting there is something new and excited to work on with the robot. The other members are fun to work with and make the meeting interesting with all their different stories and ideas on how to fix problems that have come up. For anyone that enjoys engineering and problem solving I would definitely recommend joining the RoboVikes team. -Riley L.

A Glittery Surprise

Have you ever had package stolen off your porch? With this device, created by Mark Rober, anyone who opens the package will have a glittery surprise. The mechanism can detect when the lid is taken off. When it trips, the device spews out tons of glitter all over the target. Just for an extra bit of fun, the package uses “fart in a can” to make sure the thief won’t hold on to the package for long. It also records the reaction of the thief with the use of 4 smartphones that are hidden under the shroud. The video is sent to the cloud, so Mark can see the reaction of his unsuspecting victim. -Brady P.

Tetrix vs. Lego

With our brand new FTC team using Tetrix equipment for our first FIRST competition, we had to learn new building strategies and techniques with the new equipment. With so much Tetrix equipment being purchased by the team this past year, the question has to be asked; what’s the difference between Tetrix and LEGO?

The clearest difference between Tetrix and LEGO is that Textrix uses an aluminium construction where LEGO is plastic. This makes Tetrix both a lot sturdier and much heavier. Tetrix also tends to be much larger and has more complex systems for programming and moving. There are many advantages to using Tetrix, such as the structural stability and larger selection of materials. There are, however, also several drawbacks to using Tetrix.

Where LEGO uses one type of hole for all pins and axles, Tetrix has different hole sizes for different screws and for their axles. These different sizes makes alignment with Tetrix much more difficult than with LEGO. Another key disadvantage that became quickly recognised was the time required to assemble components. With Tetrix being the main method used by the FTC team, there was definite adapting that needed to take place. -Nathan S.

With the new technology the future or the world can be changed. Something that go along with this like the Mars rover, self driving cars, and robots. Also with the new competition at YSU it can be a challenge, but we can take down anything that is in our way. In the past few years of RoboVikes sometimes you might actually learn something that was in the past. Also my goals is to accomplish my goals and to accomplish other people's goals too. However the things that we do can be frustrating but we always figure the problem. -Ethan A.

News on the LaBrae Middle School Robotics club “RoboVikes”. The robotics club has been entered into competitions “FTC” and “NEOREP”. It is their 5. The two competitions are about robotic sport-like events. There has not been any updates about new equipment for the team. There has been no updates on the technology changing. We have interviewed a member of the robotics club, James Bragg, and these are his thoughts, “My take on RoboVikes is that more people should join because it is really fun and helpful. My idea on RoboVikes in the future is that robotics will be more popular in the future and will take a lot of knowledge of the subject so more people will be in RoboVikes instead of sports or drama.” -Jamey B.

I have been a part of RoboVikes for about three years now and it has grown. There was recently had been added a new team to us which is are FTC (first tech challenge). Even though i am not apart of that team, it has been cool to see what they have accomplished. The team that I am apart of the the NEOREP team. Even Though we have six members on the high school team, the middle school team has an outstanding amount of members. As i hope that we all grow and accomplish new things as a team,i hope that we don't get lost in the competition. -Mallory C.

The LaBrae RoboVikes team is working on a robot to compete in NEOREP and FTC. The robots will be made from LEGO EV3 bricks and a EV3 brick as the main control computer. The robot will have lots of sensors to monitor its surroundings. The LaBrae RoboVikes team will have 2 groups going high school and middle school with multiple robots in each group. This year the middle school team will be aiming for first place for the past 4 years they have came in 2nd or 3rd. The high school team has won 1st place for more than 3 years. The LaBrae Robotics team is exciting many new students and students who are too young to join. -Jack D.

How I see RoboVikes in the next few years would be that the team would possibly have more members and have more parts to benefit us. The parts would help us because we would be able to make more winning robots and get us more money for more parts. The new members that might come in would help us make the robots faster. We would have a better chance at competitions and with the more people and better robots for the competitions. This is where I see RoboVikes in the next few years. -Charlie F.

Future of RoboVikes

In the future, RoboVikes will become a bigger in LaBrae. With Robotics in general growing and our school's team being very successful, it could become as big as some sports like golf or Cross Country. It will be funded possibly by the school and we will not need donors to get money for equipment and other needs. We could even get an extra room dedicated just for RoboVikes. But no matter what happens, RoboVikes will still be a local power in robotics. -Christian H.

This is my first year in RoboVikes, but so far I have loved most every second of it. Weare participating in rounds one and two of the NEOREP competition. Round one involves us programing a Lego Mindstorm robot to get from one point to the other by following a black line, then changing shape or from in some way. The second competition involves us following a line from point a, going to enter three different buildings, got to point b, and then you can go back and enter the boxes again for more points. Even though this is my first year I enjoy what we do and look forward to coming back next year. -Eric H.

This is my year in Robovikes, and so far I can tell I am going to learn so much about robotics. We have done programing, building lego robots from scratch, and writing a technical journal to explain how we build the robots. In Robovikes we don’t get money at our school, we raise money and get money from generous donors. Every little bit they give go to great use to help pay for competitions and to help pay for any parts that we need. We are currently working about making a model that looks like what our competition is going to be revolve around. Mr.Silfika is helping me understand how I would best help my team. He and my mom were the ones who convinced me to join, and I have to say I’m very happy I’ve joined Robovikes. -Stephanie H.

This year's LaBrae Robotic Team has been working on multiple robots to run in this year's 2019 NEOREP competition. The robots consist of Legos, Lego EV3 bricks, motors. The EV3 brick is designed to be the computer of the robot it controls everything it does but it can’t do that without a computer to program with. The technology we use to program these robots is called “LEGO Mindstorms EV3.” We program are robots to follow the rules in the NEOREP competition at Youngstown State University. -Larry K.

Though I’ve only been in RoboVikes two years, counting this one, I know it has changed a lot. For example, I know the technology we use is much more advanced than when RoboVikes first started. The amount of people joining the club has also changed, mainly from a very low amount of people, to a lot of students. Including 7th graders all the way to high school. The changes have been drastic but they were very good changes. These changes have to continue so we an awesome team of RoboVikes. -Dale K.

In RoboVikes,we work on robots that are powered by EV3 bricks. We use all size wheels and we program them from our computers. We go to a competition every year and it is called the NEOREP competition. In this competition we compete in various “challenges” each year the theme changes and this year it is themed penguin ninja warrior. One because it is at YSU and second of all it is ninja themed. -Tommy K.

When I go to robotics after school, it is fun and you get to build robots. We build robots using Legos. We make these robots move and do activities using the Lego EV3 software. When we finish our robots, we compete in competitions. Last year when I competed in a competition our robot won 1st place in design. The robot had a few casualties during the competition, but we hope to fix this in the future. RoboVikes is helping me and the other members of the team learn more about robots and technology. The stuff that we do could be complicated and confusing, but you’ll pull through and eventually learn from your challenges and even more from your mistakes. -Luke M.

Newsletter about the LaBrae robotics team called RoboVikes. The Robovikes team has been entered into two competitions, the FTC and the NEOREP. Elijah Nelson, a member of the team has decided to tell us what he thinks of RoboVikes. “ I think that RoboVikes is a great way to teach kids how to work as a team to accomplish goals and also helps kids learn how to program the robots so that the robot will work well and will meet the requirements of the competitions.” said Elijah. Something interesting about RoboVikes is that you are able to construct a robot as a team, whether that be programming the robot to do certain actions or putting legos, motors, and sensors to help the robot face the challenges that it is up against. -Elijah N.

I think that the new robotics equipment is great and that it will get better in the future, My take on RoboVikes so far is that it is really fun and I have a learned a couple of things from my fellow Teammates, And some things about the Whole RoboVikes situation itself. My Goals this year is to take apart of the Challenges and help out the team as much as I can And do as much as I can to help the team progress towards getting better. And I wish That I could be apart of the team In 2019-2020 as well so I can help the team progress and help me get better at the things That I might not be able to do now. I see RV progressing in the future a lot and winning more competitions and Getting more players to join the team because all together it is really fun, Something Interesting about RV is that It is really fun to work together and make robots with your teammates and communicate and give each other jobs. -Gabe N.

I really enjoy on how the Boston Robotics have made a robot that can pick up boxes and set them back down in a different place. They have a lot of different types of robot like a robot that like a dog that can do many things. Our robotics team has a great record. I have heard great things and I haven’t gone to any tournaments for this is my first year of doing it. I have only heard great things from people like Luke when he has gone to such tournaments. I see RV becoming really great in the future with more brighter people coming in and helping. So far I have found RV to be fun because we are building the robot and it is a big learning curve because I haven’t done this before. I am learning many new things about robotics while i’m doing this. -Zach N.

We have been working with the LEGO EV3 bricks and last year, we have been learning to program the robots to get them to do different things such as following lines, picking things up and putting them down. We also did things such as planning and brainstorming and also figuring things out for the robots and finding ways to make thing work out. Mi take on robotics is that i am interested in it and I think it is also fun. We even have robotics competitions and try to make the best robots to try and win. It is also easy to do and you will be lucky if you will win. My goals are to win this year and to get the first place on the team. Another goal is to make and design the best robot to win. Robotics has changed over the years because people have gotten way better at the robotics over the years. -Nathan S.