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March 9, 2013

Robotics Club competes in regionals

MT. VERNON — Membership in the Mt. Vernon Township High School Robotics Club is open to individuals from all walks of life.

One adult mentor describes the school's current membership as artists, dreamers, mathematicians, geeks, nerds and jocks.

The group will be attending the annual First Robotics regional competition Thursday through Saturday at Chaivetz Arena in St. Louis.

"There will be Robotics clubs from high schools in Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky, and their could be others, depending on whether they have competed in other regionals. They're allowed to do that," according to faculty sponsor Steve Odle.

"Every year there is a different challenge. Last year it was rebound, rumble. This year is a little different. We have to throw frisbees at one of various height goals — more points for hitting the higher heights. The low goals may be achievable, and actually, may be better we think," Odle said.

"They also have a pyramid. It has rungs every 30 inches. If you want to score big points your robot must climb at least one of those rungs at a time and be there when the finish bell goes off. If we want to score 20 points within the 2 1/2 minute time limit, we have to do whatever frisbee shooting we can do, then we have to get the robot to climb the second rung," he added.

Team members have been practicing on their manuever, although according to the rules of the competition, their robot had to be tagged and bagged after six weeks of assembly. The MVTHS team finished with assembly just before 9 p.m. Feb. 19.

"We realized in our practice that we had to work on our climbing skills. We just didn't quite have enough power, and we had the parts ordered but wouldn't you know it, they're on backorder. So we're hoping to get them installed. On the first day there, we hope to install our secondary gear drive, and that will allow us to more than double the power on our robot now for climbing."

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