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High School Robotics Reboot

Updated: 01/04/2014 6:11 PM
Created: 01/04/2014 5:14 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

All the cold weather may have you thinking about hockey, but another growing high school sport is kicking off a new season in the Northland. Students geared up for robotics on Saturday.

The FIRST Robotics Competition reboot happened on Saturday giving athletes from 20 Northland schools the challenge for this year's robots. A live feed from NASA excited students like Denfeld Sophomore Crystal Armstrong.

“We kept looking around and we're like, 'Oh my gosh.' We were just freaking out and we were all shaking from the excitement,” Armstrong said.

She said the reboot was so exciting because the competition changes every year. Last year students built robots to fling frisbees, but now they have to hurl 2 foot exercise balls.

After the announcement teams jumped right into brainstorming because they don't have long to go from the drawing board to a fully functional robot. Armstrong said it can be a demanding process.

“During the six-week build period it's quite the grueling process. I mean your diet consists of pizza and Mountain Dew and staying after school until like 8 or 9 at night,” Armstrong said.

The sport is growing with new teams cropping up across the Northland, but Owen Cruikshank from Two Harbors said his team, Rock Solid Robotics, found out there is a steep learning curve.

“Last year it was a lot more difficult to jump into everything and we didn't know how anything really worked so we were learning as we go. This year we have a little more knowledge,” Cruikshank said.

Students pick up skills in everything from engineering to computer programing and that helps them score more real-world opportunities.

“If you go on the U.S. FIRST website they have so many scholarships for FIRST members and it definitely helps with internships. As I mentioned before there is the old captain of the East High team who is doing an internship at NASA, which I think is super awesome,” Armstrong said.

The athletes said tinkering with components and drafting designs is a fun way to kick start a career.

The sport moves quickly. Teams got kits including electronic components and engine parts on Saturday. Many teams said they would begin building on Sunday.

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