Introduction to FRC 2021 Season: M-A’s Robotics Team

Hi, my name is Amelia and I am a sophomore in high school based in Menlo Park, California. I am very involved in promoting computer science in my community through robotics and computer science clubs. I help lead the Menlo-Atherton High School’s Robotics Team that participates in the First Robotics Competition (FRC) every year.

A typical season consists of 16-hour weeks working tirelessly to brainstorm, prototype, build, and, my favorite part, program our robot. The image below highlights our robot from the 2020 season – Infinite Recharge. The objective was to design a robot that could work with an alliance to shoot foam balls into a variety of goals for points and balance a monkey bar, called the Shield Generator, for end game. I specifically worked on the hook mechanism; I designed a hook that could lift the robot up, and then move along the monkey bar in order to balance it. 

Our robot for the 2020 Infinite Recharge season

However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the FRC season looks a little different this year. Our team is currently participating in two virtual challenges from home: designing a game which FRC may use in future years and inventing a solution to help people achieve optimal physical health through active play/sports. I am leading the latter, Innovation Challenge, where my group decided to help the visually impaired by designing a ball, called Menlo-Atherton’s Circular Recreational Orb (MARCO) featured below.

CAD diagram of MARCO and its electronics

MARCO uses an accelerometer, Arduino board, and a passive piezo buzzer (all contained within a foam ball) in order to make different sounds depending on its location on a field/court. The ball makes three distinct sounds: one if heading towards one goal/basket, another if heading the other direction, and the final sound is a warning for when the ball rises above the ground. Crucial to MARCO’s function is the code which keeps track of the ball’s velocity and “resets” it when it reaches zero.

MARCO’s three distinct sounds depending on its location 

I am very excited to share more blog posts in the future about subjects pertaining to robotics/coding clubs and interviews with computer science college students and teachers located in Silicon Valley, California.

Author: Amelia Kratzer

High Schooler based in Menlo Park, CA Programming lead Robotics team Founder + President M-A's Coding Club For Teens

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