Middle School Robot Sumo Wrestling

Sumo wrestling has been around for centuries. This ancient sport originated in Japan as a religious ritual honoring the Shinto gods. It continues to draw a large fan base today. Sumo wrestling involves two huge men trying to push the other out of the ring or knock his opponent down. But is there a new type of sumo wrestling at U-32?

image01Students in the Middle School have spent over three months building their knowledge and skills to knock their opponents out of the ring also. These middle schoolers were able to design and program their own unique robots for this one purpose. Hence the name “Sumo Robots.”

On December 2, the rest of the student body got to witness this epic battle during callback. Everyone was loving the show the students and their robots put on.

After the fight, we interviewed Randy Brown about the goals of the program and this event in particular.

The Chronicle: What is this event and why does it matter?

Randy Brown: It’s a culminating event of the middle school robotics program, They started August 30th, first day of school. The students get a robot kit and over the course of three months they start to build up an arsenal of programing techniques for how to program the robots to fight. There are no joysticks here. This is an autonomous programming which was written and uploaded into the robot in anticipation, strategy-wise, of how they wanted the robot to behave. It takes a long time to get to this point.

The Chronicle: What is the purpose of teaching this to kids?

Randy Brown: So the sumo event is something that is really fun; it adds a sport like component with the robotics and programming. A really exciting dynamic feature.
The goal in itself is that they spend all this time learning how to program and then actually create something. It’s sort of like if you were a carpenter and all you did was saw boards; you never built anything, you just sawed boards. Then you bought a hammer, nail gun and all this other stuff and this is kinda like programing because I’m teaching these kids other tools that they can use in the future.

The Chronicle interviewed audience member Steven Watson about what he thought about the “fight” and if he would ever consider this being a real class to be offered at U-32.

Steven Watson: I thought it was really cool how the middle schoolers had taken the time to construct these robots that drove themselves. They figured out how to program them to push the opponent out of the ring without a remote control!

The Chronicle: Would you ever want to do this in high school as a class?

Steven Watson: I’m not really into that computer-type stuff so I don’t think I would ever consider taking a class like that, but I think that it’s great that it’s out there for the kids that are interested in it.

Students interested in learning programming, through hands-on projects like these robots, should check in with their guidance counselor and TA about scheduling the programming course.

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