By Preston Frazier / May 22, 2018

Moving fore-ward with robotics

May is upon us, which here in Pittsburg, Kansas, means some stormy weather, the start of summer break, family vacations, and outdoor activities. Speaking of which, one popular summer activity can be found on the fairway, the tee box, and the green.   

To celebrate National Golf Month (May), Women’s Golf Month (June), and summer in general, I attempted to design and construct a simple robot that could help my game on the putting green. I was inspired to find some assistance because, not being an avid golfer, I need all the help I can get on the golf course!

I found it difficult to create a robot that could drive the ball 300 yards straight down the fairway (if you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them!), so I decided the goal should be to make a robot that could accurately putt from a shorter distance.

Where to Start?

I started with the TETRIX® Max R/C Robotics Set and added extra parts. The R/C Builder's Guide includes three build options, and the RangerMAX Bot seemed to be the best foundation to meet the putting goal.

That’s the beauty of using the TETRIX building system to learn to build robots. Initially, you can develop your skills by following the instructions. After you’ve got the basics down, you can create your own builds and challenge yourself with different activities; the possibilities are endless! And, if you’ll pardon the golf pun, robotics also allows for lots of mulligans. Hands-on learning with robotics totally encourages failing forward.

Expanding on the Basics

I had one chief modification to the RangerMAX Bot that I thought would help me reach my goal. I added an arm that mimicked the shape of a putter to the front of the bot.

Putter-Bot-1366-0518

Next Up: Getting the Correct Movement!

The forward and back swing was accomplished using servo motors. Check out my modified bot sinking this putt. If this bot looks backward in the video, I’m left-handed, so I had to make the robot left-handed too. 

It’s Your Turn!

Associating bots with current events and holidays, the traditional and nontraditional, is a fun way to tie to STEM activities. What can you and your students come up with? I’ve teed up to this challenge for you. Can you and your students create and hold your own golf bot scramble? Or you could swing further and select your own celebration-inspired mission and build a bot or two to accomplish the goal. You might even be able to utilize our Competition in a Box! Can’t wait to see what you all come up with.

(Thanks to Four Oaks Golf Course in Pittsburg, KS, for letting us take photos at their facilities!

 

TOPICS: IDEAS & INSPIRATION, ROBOTICS, Technology, STEM, Coding, Activities, TETRIX Robotics, 21st Century Skills

Preston Frazier

Written by Preston Frazier

Hi all! I’m one of Pitsco’s educational account representatives and have the pleasure of serving the Midwest. I travel quite a bit visiting with teachers, and presenting at workshops whenever I have the opportunity to do so. I’m an alum of the University of Missouri and Pittsburg State University and a supporter of our Big Brothers Big Sisters local chapter. I love traveling, going to sporting events, and hanging out with my wife and daughter whenever possible.