Preparing for the upcoming FIRST Robotics Competition, the newly-formed Camdenton R-III 4-H LASER (Laker Afterschool Science Engineering & Robotics) Team attended the kickoff ceremony in St. Louis Jan. 9.


Preparing for the upcoming FIRST Robotics Competition, the newly-formed Camdenton R-III 4-H LASER (Laker Afterschool Science Engineering & Robotics) Team attended the kickoff ceremony in St. Louis Jan. 9.

The team of high school students was given the supplies they’ll need to build their robot at the competition, titled “Breakaway” this year, Sherry Comer, Director of Afterschool Services, said.

At the FRC Kickoff, FIRST teams were shown the “Breakaway” playing field and received a Kit of Parts made up of motors, batteries, a control system, a PC, and a mix of automation components – but no instructions.

Working with mentors, students have six weeks to design, build, program and test their robots to meet the season’s engineering challenge.

Once these young inventors create a robot, their teams participate in competitions that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.

Post-kickoff
Since receiving their supplies, the Camdenton team and their mentors have been working around the clock to get their robot running.

Team member Thomas Johnson had only one word to describe what the last two weeks of the build season has been like: “Epic!” 

Senior Joe Keim praised the mentors working with them.

“The mentors have been invaluable to the design of our robot,” he said. 

Junior Jacob Addotta said, “It has been a really challenging, yet enjoyable first two weeks …every day presents a new obstacle to overcome with my teammates.”

Making it possible
Earlier this year, the team received a $10,000 4-H and JCPenney Afterschool grant and a $6,000 NASA grant to start a FIRST program at Camdenton High School. Most teams operate on a minimum of $40,000 each school year. The entry fee to participate is $6,500. 

Community help is needed to purchase tools, materials, lodging and meals for students. The team is possible because of the 4-H club, JCPenney and NASA for the money to start the robotics afterschool program, Mitch Comer, CHS instructor and coach of the LASER team, said.

“It has been my goal to bring the FIRST Robotics Challenge to Camdenton for the last several years. These grants provided much-needed seed money to start up a team at CHS. To find local funding to sustain the robotics team for the remainder of the season and for future years will be a formidable challenge.”

Local sponsors have also chipped in time, services and money to help the team along, including Speedline Technologies, Lake Professional Engineering and the Camdenton Optimist Club.

Varsity mind sport
Termed a “varsity sport for the mind,” the FIRST Robotics Competition is an annual event that helps students discover excitement of science, engineering and technology and the rewards a career in STEM can bring.

NASA will sponsor and broadcast a live NASA-TV feed and Web cast from the headquarters of FIRST in New Hampshire when the competition hosts an estimated 50,000 participants from around the world.

Two alliances of three teams will compete on a 27-by-54-foot field with bumps, attempting to earn points by collecting soccer balls in goals. Additional bonus points will be earned for each robot suspended in air and not touching the field at the end of the match.

For more information or to lend support to the Camdenton team by becoming a team sponsor, mentor, provide meals or supplies for the LASER team, contact Sherry Comer, Director of Afterschool Services, at 346-9233.

Information provided by Sherry Comer.