Robotics team has great visions
By Justin Voo & Shefali Pandya
M-Cubed, a FIRST Lego League robotics team, cares about the 1.3 billion people in the world who don’t have eye care and decided to help.
Team members Nishita, Ravi, Justin, Simon, Shefali and Hammad presented their ideas at two recent FIRST Lego League competitions at Sam Brannan Middle School (district) and St. Francis High School (regional). There are four categories in the competitions: research, robot running, teamwork, and robot design. M-Cubed won first place for its research project and placed well in the other three categories.
The first category consists of presenting a solution to several judges. In the Body Forward research category, each team picked a body part and either found a problem with that part and came up with a solution, or found a way to improve the existing function of the body part. M-Cubed chose the eye.
M-Cubed came up with two solutions on resolving the problem of expensive eye care for people in developing countries. The team’s first solution is to use self-adjusting glasses. The lenses of the glasses are made of a flexible plastic material. Inside the lenses, there is a material called silicone gel, which refracts light to get similar results to normal glasses. There are syringes on the sides of the lenses with the same silicone gel inside them. When you push the syringes they release gel and when you pull the syringes they take in gel. The syringes, depending how much gel you use, will tell you your prescription.
The second solution is to use a cell phone app and a telescopic view finder to view a Snellen chart. The telescopic view finder will have infinity-vision, which is used to create the regulated distance and contains the same gel-filled lens as the self-adjustable glasses. You use the same method with the syringes to adjust to the point where you can clearly see. Based on the results you enter, the app will tell you your prescription. M-cubed has also collected eye glasses through donations and plans to distribute them with the help from El Dorado Hills Lions Club.
The second category is running the robot your team builds. There is a table set up with different tasks that need to be completed by your robot. The tasks are related to the year’s Body Forward theme. Some of the tasks this season include a bone bridge, a cast and some white blood cells. Information about this year’s challenge can be found at www.usfirst.org.
The third aspect of the competition is robot design and software. This is where you have to explain to judges how your robot is efficient and how your software is exceptional and unique.
With its top achievements M-cubed now advances to the Northern California State Competition at Newark Memorial High School on Jan. 29.
FIRST Lego League is a program that encourages kids to get involved in science and technology. M-Cubed, The Machine MasterMinds, consists of seventh and eighth graders from Rolling Hills Middle School and 10th graders from Oak Ridge High School.