Osbourn Park’s Metal Jackets Team Introduces Preschoolers to Stinger the Robot

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Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)

“Stinger” the robot doesn’t look like any robot students in the preschool class at Osbourn Park High School imagine. Stinger doesn’t have arms, legs, or feet, but “she” can follow commands and toss a ball as high as the ceiling.

Osbourn Park student teachers walked the preschool class across the hall, through the cafeteria, and into the school’s engineering/construction classroom—a “field trip.”

A group of 14 youngsters ranging in age from 3 to 5 could be a bit of a challenge for their teachers to manage, but these preschoolers were quiet and attentive—except when their hands shot into the air, waving for a chance to maneuver, or drive, Stinger.

The students were special guests of Jack Palmer and Alex Purdy, two members of the school’s FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Team 2068, also known as “Metal Jackets,” who helped to build Stinger. Team member Trey Sylvester was instrumental in programming the Guitar Hero toy to send simple commands to the robot.

The Guitar Hero enables small children to drive Stinger forward and backward with an up/down motion of the neck of the guitar. Students could “strum” a lever quickly to engage the robot’s flywheel, which tossed balls across the room. All students were given a Metal Jackets “robot driver” button made by the team. The high-fives and smiles showed that this excursion was fun for all.

“The demonstration went well,” said Purdy. “Kids really enjoyed it. They will benefit from being involved in robotics because they will learn 21st century skills.” A senior, Purdy was introduced to robotics in the fifth grade.

“The purpose of our demonstration was to expose students to the top tier of robotics and get them interested in STEM,” Palmer, a junior, said. He began robotics activities in third grade.

Stinger has “met” the school’s adaptive physical education students, and now the little ones; Team 2068 is planning to involve “seasoned citizens” in the next demonstration.

Team 2068 posted the plans for constructing Stinger on the team website for other teams to use.


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