Clintonville eighth grader spends nearly 80 hours on project
By Bert Lehman
Evan Tennie, an eighth grade student at Clintonville Middle School, brought a robotic arm back to life after almost 80 hours of research and work.
Greg Rose, a teacher in the district told the Clintonville School Board at its meeting Tuesday, May 26 about the project Tennie undertook.
“It was really a different experience than anything in my 12 years of teaching,” Rose said. “It’s certainly something I hadn’t had happen before. …This is really going above and beyond anything a student would normally take on.”
Rose told the board that the message got out that he was researching a robotics course for the fall, and he was told that the district had a robotic arm in storage, but it didn’t work.
Rose had the arm brought out of storage and placed in the window in his classroom. The arm was from a former tech ed. class that the district didn’t offer anymore.
“We’ll just use it as a demo model for explaining to students what the different systems are there in it and how exactly it would work if it were to work,” Rose told the board.
Only 40 minutes after putting the arm in the window, Rose said Tennie was knocking on his door asking about the robotic arm.
Rose challenged Tennie to research the robotic arm since he didn’t know much about it.
“I thought he was going to delve into this a little bit and see what he could find. Never did I really realize how far he was going to take this process,” Rose said.
Tennie would stop by Rose’s classroom before school to experiment with the robotic arm as well as write information down. Eventually he asked Rose if he could take it home.
Rose initially said no, but after speaking with Tennie more, Rose changed his mind.
“This kid is serious. He wants to take this and fix it and get it to work,” Rose said on why he changed his mind.
He added that he knew the arm would come back in the same condition, if not in a better condition.
Tennie was also present at the board meeting, and he explained to the board what he did with the robotic arm after he took it home.
Tennie started, “After around 48 hours of research I finally drew up a plan of how I was going to make this work.”
He said the controller that is connected to the power source has 50 pins in it.
“I took two wires and hooked it up to it and touched it to each one to see which one ran the motor,” Tennie said. “I found out that 12 out of the 50 were the ones that ran the motor.”
Tennie said he then researched online for the parts that were needed. Trial and error was involved, as Tennie said he ordered the wrong switch one time.
After obtaining all the parts, Tennie started putting everything together.
“It wasn’t the easiest thing because I have a whole bunch of tiny wires,” he said.
The wires had to be soldered to the 50 pins.
“Once I had it all together one switch didn’t work so I had to take it all apart and in the process a couple of solder points broke so I had to refix those. After all of that I was determined to bring it back to school on Wednesday so I stayed up and fixed it until it worked.”
Tennie demonstrated to the board how the robotic arm works.
Tennie said he thought he probably had around 80 hours of research and assembly time stuck in the robotic arm. He also invested some of his own money to get the arm working.
“This is now more than just an artifact that I can have in the window sill,” Rose said. “This is a unit that can get incorporated directly into the curriculum involved along with the other systems that are on order and will be here.”
Rose added, “The real irony of all of this is Evan isn’t even one of my students anymore. This wasn’t in a class. This wasn’t an assignment. He was one of my students last year.”
After the presentation, Rose presented a certificate of appreciation to Tennie. The certificate was signed by Rose and district Superintendent Tom O’ Toole.
During the public comments portion of the meeting, Rose told the board about some good news concerning a new robotics class starting in the fall.
Rose said he wanted to purchase four kits for the class but they exceeded his budget. Realizing that, he used www.donorschoose.org, a web site used by teachers for fundraising.
“I am pleased to report that I reached my goal of raising $1,281 and I’m able to add these robots into my curriculum,” Rose said. “It was through community support that I was able to do this.”
Mike Krueger addressed the board about statements O’ Toole made at the prior board meeting. Krueger referred to the following comment O’ Toole made at the May 11 board meeting, “They’ve had things thrown at them nearly always with no specific details.” Also at that meeting, O’ Toole said no specific details does not lead to problem solving or anything positive.
At the May 26 meeting, Krueger responded, “I don’t know how much more specific it can get.”
He cited the specifics from previous board meetings.
Krueger again addressed the board about school administration evaluations. He said he contacted other area schools about their policies.
Krueger also told the board that the district must get involved with businesses and manufacturers in Clintonville.
“After speaking with a major business for over an hour it appears the school and they are not even close to being on the same page, as they have gone outside this district to develop students,” Krueger said.