Students from School District Five take first place in robotics competition

The team includes students from Irmo, Chapin and Spring Hill
School District Five of Lexington & Richland Counties FIRST Robotics Competition team, the...
School District Five of Lexington & Richland Counties FIRST Robotics Competition team, the Pandamaniacs.(School District Five)
Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 11:46 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Students from School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties brought home first place at the Electric City Regional. The Pandamaniacs team includes students from ninth to twelfth grade. It has students from Chapin, Spring Hill and Irmo high schools. The competition took place in Anderson, SC from March 9 through 12.

In addition to winning the competition, the team also received the Imagery Award in honor of Jack Kamen. It celebrates attractiveness and visual integration in engineering.

The team is led by two physical science teachers. Matthew Hedden from Irmo High and Robert Schiferl from Chapin High work with other mentors and district teachers to help the students design, build and test their 125 pound robot. Hedden said, “The team just kept fixing things and rebuilding the robot so that it could make the next match. That spirit, and a willingness to rebuild the robot again in the space of an hour, is what got us into the playoffs.”

This year’s challenge was Rapid React from The Boeing Company. Two alliances of three teams worked together to collect and launch 9 inch diameter balls into a scoring hub.

The robots launched the ball using preprogrammed instructions for 15 seconds. A separate period included remote control by the students for 135 seconds. Additional points were scored by hanging from bars that increased in height.

The Pandamaniacs’ robot Panadmonium is designed to use a belt system to help collect the balls and launch them. Despite suffering a catastrophic failure in the early rounds the team pressed on, improvising a new mount. Senior Brandon Bravo of Chapin High School helped to pilot the machine and was noted for his contributions to the team’s defense.

The team worked with alliance members from Cyber Tribe from Kingsport, TN and the Secret City Wildbots from Oak Ridge, TN to secure the victory. The Pandamaniacs are currently based at Irmo High School International School for the Arts. The extracurricular group is open to any high school student in the district.

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