Robotics Team working on first robot

Published 9:16 pm Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The students of the FIRST Robotics team at Nansemond River High School are hard at work designing a robot; a task they only have six weeks to complete.

Last week, the team received their robotics building kit to assemble a robot to play soccer for a competition set for March 18.

“The students have done so well coming together to put this together,” team advisor Dawn Rountree said. “We have a really well rounded group of students from every level. They work great as a team.”

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Over the next few weeks, the team must design a robot ranging anywhere from 60 inches tall to 18 inches wide, taking into account several variants such as the layout of the field and the movement of the soccer ball. After designs for the robot are finalized, they will send their design out to be manufactured and then assemble it for the competition.

“I honestly think our designs are really, really good,” Nansemond River sophomore Charles Brooks said. “We’re working at a good pace, and these are all good ideas.”

This is the first year the school will compete in the competition, which is in its 19th year and has 45,000 high school students worldwide. The champions at the state level competition will advance to a world tournament to compete with students from all over the world.

“The program helps give kids a lot of real world experience,” Rountree said. “They compete against other students in one round and are partnered with them the next round.”

The students also have to learn to work together as a team. The 20 students on the team have to combine ideas to create the design for the robot.

“There are a lot of different kinds of kids in the group,” senior team member Deric Eley said. “What we have is here is great. We’ve definitely come together as a team and combined our strengths. We have great teamwork, leadership and passion.”

Besides learning how to work as a team and going through all the different steps it takes to assemble a robot, $11 million in scholarships are granted to FIRST Robotics students each year.

“I love assembling and building things with my hands, and I’d like to do something that would help people some day,” said Eley, who applied to several universities including Duke University and the University of Virginia.