When Manistique High School teacher John Ziamba led the first-ever MHS Robotics Team last November, he said he didn't know what to expect.
"The students came up to me and I said, go online. I said, come up with some ideas of how to shoot a Frisbee. They came up with a video from online and they said, 'Can we do this?' So we came up with a drawing for it and the students created it," said Ziamba.
The school was only able to raise just under $180 through bake sales and donation cans at local businesses, so students had to repurpose old materials.
Most teams at the FIRST in Michigan Traverse City District Robotics Competition had competed before, and had state-of-the-art materials to use for their robots. But the students were more creative than that. Old typing desks and computer tables were used to craft the robot, nicknamed Junkyard Dawg.
The Manistique Emeralds' Junkyard Dawg robot can shoot Frisbees more than 50 feet.
MHS Freshman Cody Williams said, "It was very pleasing; ours didn't look anything like theirs, but ours did the job. I expected it to do good, but not to win."
MHS Senior Kyle Page said, "Seeing it go out there and shoot, being a first-time newbie team and being out there with the big guys, it was pretty exciting."
Throughout the project, the students were able to work with metals and learn welding techniques, as well as trial-and-error, ingenuity and problem solving.
The Junkyard Dawgs from Manistique were able to win a few titles this past weekend, including Highest Rookie Seed Award, the Rookie All-star Award, and coming out 24th out of 39 teams.
Ziamba said, "One of the other teams that helped us out while we were there, helping us out with our programming, actually chose us for the competition round after the qualifications. As a result, we were then able to go into the Quarter Finals with them as a team of three robots. We ended up winning the Quarter Finals in two matches, winning the Semi-Finals in two matches, and then Finals in two matches, winning the whole entire tournament with our two teammates."
The MHS Robotics Team plans to compete again next year.