Robotics teams work around ‘pause’

Members of North Branch FIRST Tech Challange Robotics Team 8637 work on constructing this year’s robot before the statewide pause on organized youth sports and activities put a temporary halt to their season.

North Branch has three FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics teams this year. Teams started meeting in September to design, build and code a robot for the game “Ultimate Goal.” The robot must be able to deliver wobble goals to specific areas on the playing field and place or shoot rings into targets. Robots operate in both an autonomous period where the robot is pre-programmed to accomplish tasks and a driver controlled period.  

Teams were on target to get their robots built in time for the first competitions in December when the “pause” brought things to a screeching halt. All competitions, being held virtual this year, were rescheduled and now the teams will begin competing at the end of January. Due to season date changes and scheduling conflicts, instead of each team having two competitions, now Team 7288 (March 6) and 8637 (February 20) each have one competition and Team 7290 (Jan 31, February 13) has two.  

Regardless of the hurdles, teams are ready to go the week of January 4 and continue building, designing, and coding their robots.  During the pause, teams have been meeting virtually to work on coding and awards.

“We are really happy to safely provide this opportunity to kids even though it is different than in the past,” a member of the team leaders said. “The teams and mentors are excited to get back to hands-on activities. We are especially grateful to our volunteer mentors for continuing to work with our teams.  Special thanks to Tomy Cummings, Justin Larson, Thomas Chaklos, Angela Tveit, Adrienne Hard and Ken Cummings.”

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