hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

School News

November 25, 2011

Robotics competition winners' work to be tested aboard International Space Station

After taking on the world in competitive Botball tournaments last summer, members of the Haverhill Robotics Club have their sights set on the stars.

The club, along with clubs from 161 other high schools and universities, is taking part in the Zero Robotics SPHERES (Synchronized Position-Hold Engage Reorient Experimental Satellites) Challenge. Overseen by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and NASA, SPHERES challenges students to solve complex astronautical engineering questions by programing robots.

More than simple ball carriers and block pushers, these robots require students to code and create operations for the robots to operate in three dimension while competing against other students' creations for points. Top scorers will have their code tested aboard the International Space Station in a live experiment performed by an astronaut. "It's exciting," said John Sanders, 15, as he manipulated thruster calculations from his laptop. "They're going to test your code while on the space station."

The Haverhill team has survived three rounds of competition. Each round requires them to code under different conditions, such as along a two dimensional plane.

Teams have the opportunity to form "alliances" and work together, which has led Haverhill to team up with schools from California and Florida.

Despite requiring them to spend long hours hunched over a keyboard, the participating students said they get great satisfaction in making their code sleek and efficient.

"One of the nice things is you can always work on this, even from home," Sanders said.

Although students have the option of coding their robots through a simple graphical interface, some of the SPHERES members prefer to get hands on with strictly text programming.

"When I can write out the code myself, I know what it will do," said Nate Bernard, 17.

Elaine Mistretta, robotics club advisor and Haverhill High math teacher, said the contest has proven to be one of the most difficult math challenges faced by her or her students.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
School News
  • Schools protect students with food allergies Posted 47 days ago
  • hunking2

    MARY SCHWALM/Staff photo Dena Papanikolaou, a parent organizer, talks to parents packing a room to hear about a proposal for the new school to replace Hunking. This February meeting was a kickoff to their campaign. 2/6/14

    Bradford to get new school Posted 68 days ago 2 Photos
  • 140606_et_tje_havgrad_13

    Graduates applaud and cheer for their classmates.

    'Hillie Nation' celebrates the Class of 2014 Posted 68 days ago 6 Photos
  • Write Away!! Contest celebrates 23rd year Posted 68 days ago
  • 140603_HG_MSC_HUNKING

    MARY SCHWALM/Staff photo Lisa Prendergast, left, and Melissa Seavey stand with Lisa's son John, 7, as he holds a sign in support of a new school to replace Hunking School. In the background is the Hunking.

    If voters approve, new school project starts in spring Posted 75 days ago 1 Photo
  • 140529_HG_CRU_WHITTIER_29

    CARL RUSSO/Staff photo Jonathan Maker, right, of Rowley, Whittier Regional High's valedictorian at this year's graduation ceremony, and his father, Donny Maker, a graduate of Whittier's Class of 1974, hug before the ceremony.

    Father and son graduate from Whittier 40 years apart Posted 75 days ago 1 Photo
  • Thursday, May 29, 2014
  • 140522_HG_HAND_ALINA

    Courtesy photo Russian exchange student Alina Skripets, 17, plays the character Annabella in the Haverhill High School senior class production of Alfred Hitchock's "The 39 Steps." At left is senior Alex Zylkuski in the role of Richard Hannay.

    From Russia to Haverhill Posted 82 days ago 1 Photo
  • Thursday, May 22, 2014
  • necc2

    TIM JEAN/Staff photos Hayley Carlin and Elizabeth Simpson, both of Methuen, give the thumbs up sign at the start of the graduation ceremony.

    NECC graduation generates excitement Posted 89 days ago 6 Photos
  • Thursday, May 15, 2014
  • 140429_ET_ASW_TREE_3

    Tom Minichiello of the Haverhill Exchange Club helps the students in Judy Reilly's first-grade class sort, bag and tag pine saplings, for distribution by the club to first-graders in Haverhill, Groveland and Salem, N.H.

    Tiny trees for tiny kids Posted 96 days ago 4 Photos
  • Thursday, May 8, 2014
  • 140502_HG_RHU_HEARTS_004

    Sacred Hearts first-grader Grace Wafford shows off her image of what she thinks she will look like at 75 years old.

    Cherishing the past, celebrating the present Posted 103 days ago 5 Photos

Photos of the Week