The Lincoln GearTicks, known for their high-tech robotic wizardry, applied their talents to a historical enterprise when they recently brought two donation boxes into the 21st century.
At Minute Man National Historical Park (MMNHP), visitors often drop coins and bills into the lantern-shaped donation boxes, which have to be designed in a way that prevents tampering and theft, since the money sometimes isn’t collected for several days. To bring the donation boxes up to current security standards, the park needed to added a security baffle to each box.
Margie Coffin Brown, resource manager at MMNHP, reached out to the GearTicks, the Lincoln-based high school robotics team that qualified for the state championship in the FIRST Tech Challenge tournament held earlier this month. After reading the National Park Service specifications on donation box construction, the students felt they could build the internal components needed to bring the old boxes up to standards.
To make the baffles, the GearTicks used a wire-bending jig to make precise bends in sheets of plastic, a common component used in the construction of small, competitive robots. In previous robot projects, the team used a heat gun, but had recently acquired the new jig to improve the functionality of their robot.
The reconditioned donation boxes (whose design was inspired by the signal lanterns hung in the Old North Church on April 19, 1775) were installed at the park late last month.