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The Aniak Robotics team has a plan to tackle its community's supply chain issues

The Aniak Robotics team, also known as the Aniak Androids, came up with an idea to help solve a supply chain issue in their community. They’ll present that idea in the Robotics State Competition on Jan. 5.

When I arrive at the Aniak school, the Robotics team is frantically cleaning their space to prepare for their practice. They’re in a large storage room in the Aniak school. Bits of paper and legos are strewn across the floor, boxes are shoved under their work table.

They dash around the room like mad scientists, working double-time to prepare for the State competition, which is coming up on Saturday.

They’ll compete in multiple categories. There’s, of course, the actual robot. Its name is De Droid 2.0. They’ll program it to complete a series of timed tasks.

But there’s another, more theoretical category in which they’ll have to present an idea for a project that could be built using robotics. They’re good at innovating– they won third place in this category at the State competition last year for designing a sustainable shoe using ocean plastic.

The theme for last year was athletics. The theme this year is very different– It’s how to solve our supply chain problems.

The 7th graders have come up with a local solution for a part of Aniak’s supply chain. Ryder Vanderpool explains. He’s 12 and has been on the robotics team for 3 years.

“We have a spot on the river where barges unload things, and they have to drop a big heavy platform down to load everything off,” said Vanderpool.

The way the barge hits now could wash out the barge landing. Which would be a huge disruption for how the town gets supplies.

Aniak is off the road system and on the Kuskokwim River, so it relies on these barges to get goods.

“Here we get everything by barge, or plane, but mainly by barge,” said Vanderpool.

The students came up with an idea to pad the barge with a spongy material so it lands a little softer and doesn’t disperse the gravel as much. They’ll build it using robotics.

“We're working on something to catch the barge landing craft so it doesn’t damage the beach,” said Vanderpool.

The students are writing a skit to explain their barge pad. They’ll present their solution to the judges this weekend. The State competition is happening over zoom due to the pandemic. You can watch the Aniak Androids competing in the State competition by clicking here.

Olivia was a News Reporter for KYUK from 2020-2022.