Spruce Mountain robotics team wins award
Mar 14, 2012 (Sun Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
SMART Robotics challenge team is raising money for a trip to a national competition in St. Louis in April. Anyone wanting to donate may send a check to Spruce Mountain High School North Campus, c/0 Dan Lemieux, 33 Community Drive, Jay, ME 04239.
JAY -- The Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team earned the Rookie All-Star Award on Saturday at the FIRST Regional Robotics Challenge in Massachusetts. It is the highest honor a rookie team can achieve, team mentors said.
The them went to the competition at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester with the goal of competing for Rookie of the Year, mentor Dan Lemieux said Tuesday.
It was the first year of this level of robotics and the first formal competition for the students and mentors, with their own robot from both campuses of Spruce Mountain High School in Jay and Livermore Falls.
Fairchild Semiconductor donated $7,200 to cover the team's $5,000 registration fee for the national competition when they won the Rookie award. The remainder will be used toward other expenses for the FIRST World Festival in St. Louis from April 25-28, Lemieux said.
The team plans to leave April 24.
Twenty-four team members, 18 students and six mentors, plan to make the trip, he said.
It will cost about $700 per person. The team has to raise $14,600. It has some resources, but won't know how much until the accounts are balance from this past weekend's competition, Lemieux said.
The team is planning fundraisers and seeking donations.
The team earned the Rookie All-Star Award during the FIRST Robotics Challenge on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. FIRST is an acronym for "For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology" and is an international program designed to get students motivated in science, technology, engineering and math through robotics competitions.
Students and mentors built a computerized robot, nicknamed "Bowser," that had to be under 120 pounds and completed within six weeks. They also built a practice robot.
The robot had to be able to shoot foam basketballs in hoops at three heights and to balance on a hinged bridge with other robots, Lemieux said.
One of the hopes for the SMART Robotics after-school, co-curricular program in the schools in RSU 73 in Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls is to help the area develop the next generation of highly skilled workers to rebuild the communities, Lemieux said.
Most of the area jobs available 30 years ago for high school graduates are gone, he said.
Educators hope the program -- fostered through the Jay school system for years and now by RSU 73 -- will draw new, high-tech industries to the communities.
Team components include the Spirit Team and the Build Team.
After 12 qualifying rounds of competition, the team was seeded fourth overall among 34 teams, mentor Rob Taylor said in an update on the rsu73.org website.
The team had to earn cooperation and collaboration points, Lemieux said.
The robot scored 16 points by balancing on the center balance bridge with a robot from the opposing alliance, which was the highest number of cooperation points scored in qualifying by any team, Taylor wrote.
The team was one of seven rookie teams in the field. During the quarterfinal elimination match, the team ran into some difficulties in its first run when an electrical issue caused a temporary malfunction and the drivers lost control for about 20 critical seconds, he said.
When the robot came back online, the team rallied and completed the balance bridge but lost the match.
In its second run, the team was eliminated with a second loss in the double elimination quarterfinals when one of the foam balls became pinned beneath the balance bridge, preventing the robots from scoring points, he said.
"Our robot performed very well," Lemieux said. "We just rocked that place."
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