AHS forms robotics team

Published 10:44 am Thursday, January 8, 2009

Austin High School may produce young engineers and researchers with the creation of its first competitive robotics team.

The AHS FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Team will embark on its debut contest April 2-4 at the University of Minnesota for a futuristic game of “Lunacy.” The FIRST Web site describes the game as a 54-by-27-foot low friction field were “robots are equipped with slippery wheels and payload trailers.” Two three-member teams earn points by collecting “orbit balls” and depositing them in opposing teams’ “trailers.”

A game one has to see to really comprehend, the robots will participate in “Lunacy” both automatically and by teleoperation. Whomever fills the opposing team’s trailer first wins.

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The AHS team, which may consist of an estimated 15 to 30 students, has six weeks to assemble a working robot – from inventory to forming crews to constructing the shipping box. About 100 teams from across Minnesota will participate at the U of M.

“We’re all in this together,” science teacher Mark Raymond told students as they examined the robotics kits Wednesday night in the AHS Annex. “We are going to make all kinds of glorious errors as a group.”

“A lot of this technology is relevant to the world today,” said Steven Brockman, 17. “I’m interested in science.” The senior said he plans to attend Luther College after graduation and study science.

Raymond admitted that the robotics team will be very demanding. The team will have its own room in the Annex, which he will open several evenings a week.

“It’s a real commitment,” he said, explaining that the reward for the students’ efforts will be “nothing but pride.”