Bill McAnany, center, pilots a drone, which hovers at his knee. at a Brookfield Board of Education meeting. Also with him are Cameron Neely, left, and Sam Plyler.

Bill McAnany, center, pilots a drone, which hovers at his knee. at a Brookfield Board of Education meeting. Also with him are Cameron Neely, left, and Sam Plyler.

You might not think that the story of Goldilocks has anything to do with drone racing, but Brookfield High School’s Drone Racing Team has used the story to explain the process it has been going through to build a drone for the Drones in School National Race this month in Denver.

The five-member team, advised by teacher Tim Reinsel, has been experimenting with plastic materials for its drone, using a 3-D printer to build it. One of the materials was too rigid, but another was too soft. The team is trying to find the material that is just right, said senior Bill McAnany.

The design is highly detailed, he said, and the team has experimented with the thickness of the housing that holds the propellers, the number of braces in between housings, and the placement of the battery and the removable payload.

“We decided that the Drones in School payload would be a great casing for it (battery) to reduce the chances of the batteries hitting the ground and potentially damaging more,” Bill told the school board April 21. “The lithium ion batteries that we’re dealing with, they don’t really come cheap. We can’t exactly replace them whenever we want.”

The team has participated in live, online, virtual and simulated races this year, and qualified for the national race through its virtual races, Reinsel said. It is expected that 24 schools will participate in the races May 10 and 11 at the Denver Convention Center.

At the national race, the team will run a timed race through gates, and a capture-the-flag-style race through light beacons, Reinsel said. It also will be judged based on how it designed and built the drone, and how the team went about raising money, attracting sponsors and designing its uniforms, he said.

“That’s where most of the points come – It’s like three-quarters of it is judging, and then only a quarter is actually racing,” Reinsel said.

promoWhen the team qualified for the national race, Supt. Toby Gibson went on a fundraising campaign, asking businesses and organizations to donate toward the effort to send the team to the race. As of April 25, donations had come in from:

Michael Martin Distributing, Brookfield, $500; Ohio Foam Corp., Youngstown, of which school board member Jerry Necastro is vice president, $2,500; Paramount Games, Wheatland, Pa., $200; school board member Derek Mihalcin, $500; Becdel Controls, Niles, $1,000; the Brookfield Federation of Teachers, $500; and Chuck George, a 1976 Brookfield graduate, $10,000.

“All I can say is, wow,” said board President Ronda Bonekovic. “This is so generous of everybody to step up and make sure that these kids are able to go.”

The money not spent on the trip will go to the club’s budget for future activities.

“We’re super excited about this chance,” Reinsel said. “I know they are superexcited to be able to take off and go to a new state far away. Some of them will be flying for the first time.”

With all five members being seniors, Reinsel is looking to attract new members for next year, and the fact that the team is going to Denver is helping stir up interest, he said.

The race is being held as part of a technology convention, “so we’ll be able to go around and look at all the different drones and stuff they have there, as well,” Reinsel said.

In addition to Bill, the team members are Cameron Neely, Sam Plyler, Kara Svarny and Makenna Hunter.