Pinedale group heads to national robot competition

4-H members (from left to right) Wyatt Griffin, Liam Walker and Noah Daniels test their robot in preparation for upcoming national competition in Houston. (Photo by Holly Dabb, Pinedale Roundup)

By Holly Dabb Pinedale Roundup Via Wyoming News Exchange

PINEDALE – Ready. Set. Go.
And, after a few calculations, the robot is off to test its design on a series of tasks on a specialized table.
It’s taken months of design and testing to prepare, but a group of nine 4-H members, ages 9-13, get together weekly to prepare their design and robot for the upcoming April 18-21 National First LEGO League tournament in Houston, Texas.
Robin Schamber, University of Wyoming Extension educator, said the program is designed for kids to learn basic core values while having fun. She said it gives kids who may not want sports as an outlet a way to be part of a team.
“When I grew up, all they had were sports,” Schamber said.
The basis of First LEGO League is a robotics tournament in a cheerful atmosphere, where kids need to solve a tricky mission with the help of a robot.
The kids research a given topic in advance within a team, they plan programming and testing a robot to solve the mission.
The teams take the opportunity to experience all steps of a real product development process: solving a problem under time pressure with insufficient resources and unknown competitors.
This isn’t their first trip around. Several of the team’s members attended national competition in the past. They brought what they saw in other robot designs back to their Pinedale design table and this year they are headed back with their new design.
Schamber said the kids will not only be judged on how their robot performs, but they are also judged on how well they work together, sportsmanship and communication skills.
As part of their 4-H projects, participants maintain record books and portfolios.
Coach Andy Adkins, who supervises the group, said, “I just love to watch the kids learn. It’s the one thing I’ve been passionate about.”
He added, “It’s a place these kids can fit in and it makes them feel like they are part of a team.”
The project isn’t cheap. Schamber estimated it will cost nearly $1,000 per participant to pay the entry fees, travel and attend the competition.
BOCES has contributed $500 per kid to help, but additional fundraisers are planned. 


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