Wamsutta Robotics

Wamsutta Middle School sixth-graders competed in a robotics competition Wednesday, with judges from Sensata in Attleboro. Sixth-grader Brennan McAvoy, center in blue sweatshirt, his robotics partner Alexander Ferre, to the left of McAvoy and classmate Nick Brown, right, and judge Peter Weise of Sensata watch as McAvoy and Ferre's robot maneuvers ping-pong balls through holes. (Staff photo by Mark Stockwell)

ATTLEBORO - Sixth-graders at Wamsutta Middle School might not be professional engineers, but they were more than ready for robotics competition Wednesday in the school's cafetorium.

The competition involved students who, over a seven-week period, learned to program and operate robots provided by Attleboro-based Sensata.

The goal was for the students' robots to push four ping-pong balls up a wooden ramp and for the balls to fall into holes in the board. Once they reached the top, the robots would attempt to snare a ball at the top of the ramp, reverse and guide it into one of the holes.

Teams also were given points if their robot could talk.

"The kids built the robots and programmed them," science teacher Erin Chase said. "They really enjoyed the process."

The program started as part of the national STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program.

After doing work with teachers at the school, Sensata was able to donate computers to the school. Soon after, the idea of introducing students to robotics was put into action. "We got a lot of help from Chris Souza," said Kevin Kennedy, a volunteer from Sensata.

Souza, a teacher at Wamsutta, was instrumental in helping coordinate the program, he said. "It was good to get the robots out of their boxes and for them to get some use," Kennedy said.

This was the first year the school has hosted the competition.

The Sensata volunteers said they hope to continue working with the school.

The winners of Wednesday's robot showdown were Aiden McSheffrey, Dale Gensler, Erica Labarre and Gwen Nelson.

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