Middle school robotics team shares project with board

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 1/25/23

The Owensville Middle School (OMS) Robotics Team followed up a first-place win in a competitive design category with a Jan. 17 presentation on their projects to the Gasconade County R-2 Board of …

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Middle school robotics team shares project with board


The Owensville Middle School (OMS) Robotics Team followed up a first-place win in a competitive design category with a Jan. 17 presentation on their projects to the Gasconade County R-2 Board of Education.

Co-sponsor Donna Monier explained the team’s goals.

“Beginning in October, the team worked collaboratively on all parts of the projects,” said Monier, a third-year coach. “The three parts of the competition included the robot game, robot design and core values. Students worked with coding the robot to follow commands on the competition field in order to complete missions and earn points.”

Students were asked what a typical competition day is like. They said it starts early. The one and only student competition OMS attends was the Dec. 10 Qualifier at the Lutheran High School in St. Charles, an event that lasts all day against 24 different schools.

“We had gotten there, set up our stuff and gone to a practice round,” one student explained. “Then sat and practiced some more.”

Coaches are Monier, Heather Wehmeyer — a third-year coach, and mentors Janson Hinson, a third-year coach,  and Adam Lewis, a second-year coach. While Lewis was not present at the board meeting, the other three interjected information as needed. 

“They had to go through a 30-minute interview explaining their robot design — which Kaylie (Hinson) has made her project from the very beginning of the year,” Monier said. “The robot’s name is lovingly called Steve.”

They also talked about core values, innovation and project design, which were the three categories in which the group competed.

“Innovation was a project to build off of something that they already had,” Monier continued.

The 2022 theme was Super Powered — a focus on green energy.

“This year’s project was energy so they had to figure out what kind of green energy was available through our communities and our state,” Monier said. “The team decided to explore the concept of covered parking at our schools with solar panels on the top of the structure. The team researched ways in which this project could not only reduce energy costs within the district but also help our school community to leave a smaller energy footprint on the world. The final part of the project was where students work on practicing Core Values as taught by the First Lego League curriculum.”

Students explained their reasons for choosing to investigate solar panel energy.

“We went with an idea of solar panels over parking lots because it could partly shield cars from weather, wouldn’t take up much space because it is over something we already had,” one student explained.

“We calculated the numbers based off of what Nancy gave us and based off of 104-kilowatt solar panels, which could reduce electricity by over $500,000 to the district and there are grants available for the program,” Wehmeyer said.

Monier said the students thought they could print the numbers and present the idea to the board for consideration.

“This might be something we could incorporate into our school district and save the district a lot of money,” Monier said. “Also, just kind of build up the idea of what robotics is all about. It is not just about building a robot and having fun. It is about creating innovation for the next generation.”

Wehmeyer explained that the three stages of the competition included:

• Core values, which include discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion, teamwork, fun, cooperation, and gracious professionalism,

• Innovation project, which includes researching the theme of clean energy.

• Robot Design includes running the team bot through 15 previously stated challenges. Each mission is worth so many points to win within two minutes.

“Cyber Clan (OMS Robotics) has taken first place for Robot Design for the second year in a row,” Wehmeyer said. “Most teams in the competition used the newest bot kits and software. Cyber Clan used what they had from last year and years prior, making their own gearing modifications and adjusting to software issues on the fly. This may have been what put them over the top with the judges’ scoring. They saw that the team recognized the problems, planned and adapted regardless of not having the best equipment.”

Wehmeyer said they hope to gain grants soon to help cover costs.

“We also hope to help create more interest in our district’s robotics programs to grow sponsorships, team members and coaches.”

Team members on the 2022 OMS Cyber Clan Robotics team are Team members: eighth grader Kai Kenney; seventh graders Bradley Lewis (third year), Cullen Green (second year), Hayden Holland (second year), Kaylie Hinson (third year), Ryder Wehmeyer (third year), Wesley Slawinski (first year), and sixth grader Rylee Schuchardt (first year). Not present at the meeting were seventh graders Weston Baumli (second year) and Coltan Butler (third year).