, Muskogee, OK

January 6, 2014

Team enters robotics event

Members must build robot capable of moving 2-foot ball in a court

By Cathy Spaulding
Times Staff Writer

— Another Fort Gibson team aims for victory in a ball game.

However, this ball is 2 feet in diameter. The competition is six weeks. The main player will be a robot.

The FGHS Robotics team is competing against 45 other Oklahoma teams in the FIRST Robotics Competition. The teams come from public, private and career-tech schools and have six weeks to build a robot capable of playing a game. The competition is part of FIRST — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology — a global program geared to encouraging youth involvement in science and technology.

Teams gathered for the competition’s kickoff Saturday in Stillwater. They were given their goal — to build a robot that can move a 2-foot ball on a court. They were given a kit of basic nuts, bolts, gears, belts and wheels. After that — they’re on their own.

FGHS robotics team sponsor Tim Berres said this year’s game is “kind of a mix between volleyball and a beach ball.”

“The robots have to move the ball,” Berres said.

About 14 of Fort Gibson’s 28 team members went to the kickoff. Some team members came to the high school Monday afternoon — while school was out for bad weather — to start work.

FGHS senior James Kolb said the team is “kind of in the process” of coming up with ideas.

They already began brainstorming, Kolb said.

“We kind of did it on the way back,” James said Monday. “But today is more of a full team effort.”

“We have different ideas,” said senior Octavio Rodriguez.

“We don’t know if any are going to work,” James said.

Berres said team members must build the robot from the basic items they got Saturday, plus whatever other items they find.

“They build it from scrap,” he said.

This is the third year Fort Gibson has sent a team to the Oklahoma regional competition, he said.

“Last year, we did Frisbee golf,” Berres said. “The robot had to drive over and shoot Frisbees in slots on different sides of the court.”

Last year’s team finished “in the middle” of 60 teams, he said.

Berres, who teaches algebra and calculus at FGHS, said each year, the team involves more students.

“We had 15 last year and this year there are 28,” he said. Last year’s team had one female, while this year’s has four, he said.

Octavio said the competition tests him in a variety of ways.

“It allows me to be part of a team and introduces me to hands-on endeavors,” he said. “It takes all the math and all the science I learn in school and applies it.”

After six weeks, teams compete in a regional meet March 28-29 in Oklahoma City.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogee