April 17, 2021

Despite the Pandemic, Lyme-Old Lyme HS TechnoTicks are Still Tinkering

The first TechnoTicks meeting of the year held via Zoom.

Tinkering is what happens when you try something you don’t quite know how to do, guided by whim, imagination, and curiosity. When you tinker, there are no instructions—but there are also no failures, no right or wrong ways of doing things. It’s about figuring out how things work and reworking them. Contraptions, machines, wildly mismatched objects working in harmony—this is the stuff of tinkering. Tinkering is, at its most basic, a process that marries play and inquiry. — Massimo Banzi, inventor of the Arduino system.

OLD LYME — Despite the chaos of fall 2020, Lyme-Old Lyme High School’s FIRST Robotics team – TechnoTicks Team 236 —has not been idle. 

TechnoTick students and their mentors have embarked on a modified journey of discovery using readily available resources like 3D design programs TinkerCAD and Onshape, and the Arduino circuit board system along with the collective inquisitive nature of the TechnoTicks. 

Each fall, the mentors and returning students of Team 236 hold a series of training nights to prepare new students for the season. Due to Covid-19, the TechnoTicks have been holding their fall training online through Zoom. 

An Arduino circuit built in TinkerCad set up to control a Red, Yellow, and Green LED.

Each Team 236 student received a TinkerCAD and Onshape account, and their own Arduino kit. Arduino circuit boards can be programmed to interact with many electronics, including Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs), motors, speakers, Global Positioning System (GPS) units, cameras, and even cellphones.

Each week, students and mentors meet via Zoom and discuss a new design problem. They then break out into smaller “rooms” and work to design and program their Arduino board to complete a task.  So far, members of the team have learned to write code that will light up LEDs, use distance sensors, and power motors.

An Arduino circuit programmed to light up as the sensor is activated.

With these weekly meetings on Thursday nights, the team looks forward to advancing their technological inventory and learning more as the season progresses.

In the coming weeks, students will work to advance their programming and Computer Assisted Design (CAD) skills.  While not every attempt will be perfect, tinkering is the goal.

The TechnoTicks say proudly, “We are not yet sure how, or where this path will lead, except that we know it will be challenging and we know it will be fun.”

Isn’t that what learning should be all about?

Editor’s Note: FIRST Robotics Team 236 – the Techno Ticks offers students from Lyme-Old Lyme High School and East Lyme High School a creative way to learn about robotics, design and computer programming. Visit the TechnoTicks website and follow the team on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to be kept up to date with the latest news.