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Robotics competition is fun way to learn at Oklahoma City school

Middle school robotics team from St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Oklahoma City will be competing in St. Louis at the First Lego League World Festival.
by Matt Patterson Published: April 17, 2014

Inside a classroom at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School on a Friday evening, members of a Lego League robotics team are working with their robot, programming it to complete tasks.

The team, Baking Soda Volcano, won the Oklahoma championship for middle school students this year. Later this month, they will attend the First Lego League World Festival for four days in St. Louis.

Their robot is programmed using Bluetooth from a laptop. There is no remote control. Students must program the robot using software on a laptop that sends the task to the robot via Bluetooth.

“It’s all kind of like a cross between a robot contest and a science fair with a little bit of project management,” said Travis Smith, the team coach. “They are judged in three areas. The robot and how it is built. How it performs on the field, and also their project, which is called Nature’s Fury. That will be presented and judged. They are also judged on organization and how they treat other teams.”

All the robot’s tasks are geared around the aftermath of a severe storm. In one mission, the robot has to push debris out of the way. In another, it moves an ambulance.

“All of the missions are autonomous,” said team member Maddie Smith, 13, who is the coach’s daughter. “So, it has to be programmed. We have one where we have to move trucks and another where we have to push an ambulance. The programming is the part I enjoy the most.”

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by Matt Patterson
Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun....
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