San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

November 11th, 2009
Rattler robotics team captures challenge

2Rattler Robotic team in black captureThe Rattler team (in black) gets its fourth “capture.”


San Marcos High School’s (SMHS) rookie robotics team went to its first-ever competition and took fifth place in a field of 26 high schools with veteran teams.

The Rattle Robotics Team now advances to the state level competition in December. The team is sponsored by Brad Walker, the Career and Technical Education (CTR) and Science teacher at SMHS.

Walker said that the core of the new robotics team organized after the beginning of the school year in late August. The goal was to compete in the “Capitol Best” robotics competition in Austin. After their first road trip in September, team members realized what a big challenge they had taken on.

“Our job for the next six weeks was to develop, through proper engineering approaches and techniques, a robot capable of collecting tennis balls, racquet balls, six ounce cans, and inflatable globes, handing anywhere from thirty to forty-eight inches in the air—not to mention grab hold of and maneuver a scaled model of an 18-wheeler tanker trailer around a ten-foot-by-ten-foot playing field,” Walker said.

Each of the items to be collected represented a chemical element or compound. The goal was to collect the needed components to form higher level compounds. The higher a level of compound that could be formed, the higher the score. Though the competition theme was “Energy,” Walker said that the “game was basically robots and chemistry.”

The team took on the challenge and its membership grew. Although the team’s excitement was growing, so, also, was the workload to complete the machine. The robotics team participated in a practice run in Georgetown and then spent the following week refining the machine. The weekend of Oct. 24, the team competed at Westlake High School against 25 other teams.

With its fifth-place standing, the team qualified for regional competitions before the state championship.

“We were in second place most of the day,” Walker said, “but fifth is a good standing considering that most of the schools competing were veteran teams that have done this for many years. This is our first year.”

The team heads to Denton on Dec. 4 for the next level of competition.

“Right now the robot is in pieces for some remodeling and a makeover, so I’m a bit nervous,” Walker said. “But piece by piece, the robot will be up and running, ready for the December event.”

The Rattler Robotics team is a part of the San Marcos CISD district-wide academic campaign to bring more science and math into the curriculum and into extra-curricular activities.
1Rattler RobotThe Rattler robot.

1RoyPope workingRoy Pope works intently on the project.

1Making AdjustmentsThe team makes adjustments.

1Hallway test drive A hallway test drive.

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0 thoughts on “Rattler robotics team captures challenge

  1. Very, very cool! Best of luck to the team in December at the state competition. I look forward to reading another article about your experience.

    Go Rattler Robotics!!!

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