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Start Seeing Robots

Pete Springer/OPB

You’re going to see a lot of robots this year. From Hollywood to online crafters, robots are infiltrating popular culture like so many zombies, ninjas and pirates that came before them. Robot workshops can also be found in local high schools.

Henry Middles, 17, leads Team Mean Machine at Camas High School. This is his third year of making robots in the First Robotics Competition.

Natalie Janson, 16, is in her second year with the team. She is working on public relations and building. She says she enjoys the teamwork and developing her people skills with the project. She’s also gotten very attached to the robots. 

After winning first place in regional competitions in Portland and Seattle, members of the team are off to St. Louis this month. There, all robots will complete the same two tasks — placing innertubes on pegs and scooting up a 10-foot steel pole. Whether or not they place in the world competition matters less, the teens say, than exhibiting what organizers call “gracious professionalism”.

Participants in the international competition say the project is like running a small business. The students pitch their projects and write grants to raise money and craft prototypes before robot constructions begins.

Are you an educator or robot enthusiast? What could a similar program have done for you?


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