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Robotics team gets beginner's boost
[January 10, 2012]

Robotics team gets beginner's boost

Jan 10, 2012 (The Journal-Register - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The 2012 FIRST Robotics Competition kicked off Saturday, and Orleans County-based Team 4093 received an added boost in its efforts to tackle "Rebound Rumble," this year's challenge.

Team 4093, which debuted this year and is open to all high-school-aged students in Orleans County, found the parameters of the challenge Saturday. According to FIRST's website, "Rebound Rumble" pits two three-team alliances in a challenge to shoot as many basketballs as possible into a series of hoops during the 135-second match.

"I hate basketball, so I have to think about it like it's not basketball," said Team 4093 Secretary Nick Ettinger, who was participating in a brainstorming session on the robot's design Sunday. "But there are kids on the team who do like basketball, so that helps." The competition was unveiled at a ceremony led by inventor and FIRST founder Dean Kamen, presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, musician and comedian Stephen Colbert. Team 4093, nicknamed Joe's Average Slackers, attended an event in Rochester to watch the unveiling and learn FRC robot-building tricks from Team 1511, a veteran group from Penfield, Saturday.

The team walked away with more than knowledge, as the Slackers were selected from a crop of rookie teams to receive a half-court practice field that lays out the obstacles the team will face at the FIRST Robotics Competition Finger Lakes Regional in March.

"We were able to bring home the half of the playing field that was on display," team mentor Marlene Seielstad said. "Many teams have to build their own practice field." That will help the team learn to maneuver over barriers and figure out the best method of sending the 7 1/2-inch balls through the targets, which are set at different heights. Ettinger said the team has already come up with some ideas on how to meet the challenge during six hours of planning Sunday.

"We're not allowed to use air cans, but we've thought about using a fan to throw the balls," Ettinger said. "We also have to figure out how to not get stuck on the barriers." Seielstad said the Sackers will start meeting three times per week this month at RS Automation in Albion, starting with a session at 5:30 p.m. today. The team, which is administered under the Orleans County 4-H umbrella, is sponsored by J.C. Penney, Xerox, RS Automation, Albion ACE Hardware, Evans ACE Hardware and Building Supplies, Stanton Signs and Designs and Empire Automation Systems Inc.

___ (c)2012 The Journal-Register (Medina, N.Y.) Visit The Journal-Register (Medina, N.Y.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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