Robotics Efforts for September – May
School Name: Cass Technical High School
Coaches: Mr. Gregory Spahlinger, Mr. Karl Balke
Dean’s List Student Nominees for FIRST: Aaron Stunson, Diamond Taylor
The extracurricular Robotics and cyber security activities described below are available to all students, Grades 9 – 12.
We meet after school daily from Monday – Friday from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm in Room 115.
Fridays are reserved for the CyberPatriot cyber security teams, with mentors from Henry Ford College assisting.
Days and hours will vary during the competition season for each activity.
VEX Robotics: September – December
VEX changed their electronic equipment for the 2018-2019 competition season, and Cass Tech had difficulty procuring the requisite equipment to successfully compete. Below is our involvement from the 2017-2018 academic year.
Cass Tech competed in one event during the VEX Robotics Season. The 30 students who participated in the program learned how to construct a robot to perform a given task, within the strictures of the design parameters. They learned programming, mechanical and electrical engineering, the engineering design process, and how to solve problems during the stress of competition. Cass Tech has a total of 5 teams; 5867 V,W,X,Y,Z.
Cass Tech hosted a VEX robotics tournament for the fifth time, with Mr. Balke as an Event Partner and Gregory Spahlinger assisting, allowing greater access to the VEX robotics education resources. With assistance from Michigan State University College of Engineering, Cass Tech acquired competition materials and a playing field and electronics for ease of hosting future tournaments. This program is an after school Robotics Club opportunity. The VEX robots are used for guests to drive at promotional events where elementary school students and industry representatives are afforded the opportunity to experience driving a student built robot first-hand.
FIRST Robotics: January – April
This is a volunteer group of afterschool Robotics Club students participated in the FIRST robotics program, which takes place during a hectic 6 week build season in January and February. These students meet after school and travel to the Michigan Engineering Zone (MEZ), which the University of Michigan sponsors. The students successfully completed the robot in time to practice driving, along with assisting most of the 18 other high school teams who also work on their robot at the facility. The Cass Tech Tenacious Technicians Team 2673 have been selected to represent the district at the Career Technical Fair, at Head Start, and at the Belle Isle Grand Prix Education Day, where robotics students demonstrate the robotics program to visiting school groups and industry representatives. Fair participants are allowed to drive the VEX robots and ask questions of the student engineers who built them. The organization stresses student involvement in the design, construction and revision of the competition robot. Adult involvement is minimal and relegated to advisory roles. The students are allowed to fail and learn from their mistakes. During the 6 week build season, the team lost nearly 2 weeks of build time due to the extremely cold weather. The students reassessed what they could reasonably accomplish in the short time left to complete the robot and were successful in constructing a competition-ready robot in the remaining time allotted. This is also a valuable learning experience.
This year, Ms. Velma Snow and Mr. Todd Henderson collaborated to bring a FIRST Robotics District Event to Cass Technical High School for the first time in ten years. At this competition, Team 2673 Tenacious Technicians finished with an overall ranking of 9th out of the 39 competing, improving on their previous performance of 29th out of 40 at the Southfield District Competition, their first event of the 2019 season. The team was selected to participate at the World Championship held at Cobo Hall in Detroit, where the Tenacious Technicians finished 28th out of 70 teams in their division. This is a remarkable showing, and although the students did not win the championship, they performed well with the best robotics teams in the country. The team greatly surpassed the expectations of the coaches and mentors, and we are very proud of the efforts of the students.
CyberPatriots: September – February
New for 2015-2016 and continued into the 2018-2019 school year, the CyberPatriot competition has teams of up to six students trying to identify and repair vulnerabilities in computer operating systems that hackers can use to exploit and gain access to vital information. In 2016-17 we expanded from 3 to 5 teams, and the participants improved their skills and moved up in the rankings. In 2018-2019 we expanded to 10 teams with Dr. Greg Spahlinger taking on a coaching role to meet increased student demand, and students became more proficient in using scripts and Packet Tracer to evaluate networks.
This academic year saw the advent of a Cyber Security class that Ms. Amira Hussein ably instructs. The class is a welcome addition to the cyber security efforts, and Ms. Hussein has greatly contributed to the success of the competing teams this year.
The 6-member teams are involved in 2 Qualifying Events, a State Championship, and a Regional Championship. The Qualifying Events place them in either the Silver, Gold, or Platinum Tiers based on their performance. Each event is six hours long and involves students evaluating the vulnerabilities in three different kinds of operating systems and solving networking issues. The students not only identify the vulnerabilities, but also must remedy them to gain points. Despite missing one of the qualifying competitions, Team Ghost Bitz won 2nd Place in the Silver Tier Michigan State championship and went on to compete at the Regional Championship. Our goal is to eventually have the teams competing in the Platinum Tier.
At the conclusion of the FIRST Robotics Season, the Cass Tech Robotics Club is in promotion mode. We attended the DPS Career Trades Education (CTE) Fair to demonstrate high school robotics. We also participated in the 5th Gear and Grow-Up-Great programs that take place in conjunction with the Belli Isle Grand Prix Education Day, and we presented the VEX robots at Head Start, allowing pre-school students to drive the VEX robots. Cass Tech Tenacious Technicians explain the construction and engineering design process to preschool, elementary and middle school students from participating schools and industry representatives.
The Detroit Public Schools Foundation provided funding for Vernier electronic data acquisition equipment. A netbook running the Logger Pro software collects data from electronic probes that are interfaced with an experimental apparatus. The computers and electronics collect precise data, which the students then analyze using curve fitting and slope analysis to verify Physics Laws. The students access laboratory reports on-line through the teacher’s website, modify the word documents and insert graph screen shots, and submit the laboratory reports electronically. Google Drive and Google Docs are used extensively for students to share the data within the group, allowing students to work collaboratively on the document wherever they have internet access. Microsoft Excel is used to analyze data from experiments where the data is collected by hand. On-line simulations from Colorado PhET are used to augment the experiments where classroom equipment is not available. Practically all assignments are electronically submitted.
Project Lead The Way (PLTW):
This is the third year of implementation of the PLTW Engineering Pathway. The 9th Grade students take Introduction to Engineering (IED) and the 10th Grade students are enrolled in the Principle of Engineering (POE) class that Mr. Balke instructs. The curriculum is nationally recognized and certified, and students may get college credit if they pass an end of year exam, similar to the College Board’s AP tests. The curriculum is experience driven and focuses on the students applying math and science to solve problems using the Engineering Design Process.