Three Douglas County youth robotic teams have earned entry in this weekend’s Intel Oregon FIRST LEGO League State Championship Tournaments.
This event is free and will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at Liberty High School gymnasium, 21945 N.W. Wagon Way, Hillsboro.
Representing Douglas County will be Cybernetic Elks from the Elkton Charter School, Gobotics from Geneva Academy in Roseburg and Snow-Leopardz from the Fremont Robotics Club in Roseburg.
The state tournament will feature 120 top teams from Oregon, Southwest Washington and Siskiyou County, California. Sixty teams will compete each day. The teams are made up of both girls and boys, ages 9 to 14.
On Sunday, the returning Cybernetic Elks team will compete with the rookie Gobotics team.
The rookie Snow-Leopardz team will compete on Saturday. This eight-student club is a partnership between Fremont Middle School and the Boy Scouts of America Exploring Club that focuses on robotics. The team is a coed team of students, ages 12 and older.
“We train the boys and girls to be leaders, which makes a big difference,” said Chris McCullough, executive director of the Boy Scouts of Douglas County. “It’s cooperation and integration that goes beyond playing with robots by working on character, integrity and leadership.”
McCullough can be reached at 541-560-6355 and is available to help schools, churches and neighborhoods organize robotics teams within Douglas County.
This weekend, each team will be made up of four to 10 students who were given eight weeks to prepare for the tournament. Preparation includes design and construction of the robot along with programming the robot and completing scientific research.
The teams use LEGO robotics kits to design, build and program their robots. The robots then complete as many missions as possible on a 4-foot by 8-foot playing field. A different pair of teams will compete every four minutes this weekend with a big-screen projection and play-by-play announcers.
Every year, FIRST LEGO League defines a different challenge that drives team activities. This year, “Animal Allies” is the challenge, where FIRST LEGO League teams explore how humans and animals interact.
The teams then develop a presentation based on a particular problem that arises when humans and animals live together, what was learned about it and what recommendations were made to improve the animal/human interaction.
The teams also designed, built and programmed a robot that conducts a series of missions on a robotics playing field based on the ways humans and animals help each other daily.
Oregon technology corporations collaborated with the Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program to implement the program to encourage young people to become interested in studying science and engineering.
To organize this event, ORTOP worked with title sponsor Intel, Rockwell Collins, Google, Daimler, Garmin, IBM and Vernier along with other sponsors and partner organizations.
Oregon has one of the largest youth robotics programs in the country. As of Dec. 2016, about 450 teams and over 3,000 students participated in 24 qualifying tournaments in Oregon and Southwest Washington.