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High School Robotics Team Recognized at International Competition

Constructing a robot that can pick up balls and drop them more than a short wall requires knowledge, skill and perseverance.

"We come up with designs, review them, find flaws maybe, then build them," said 17-year-old Matt Johnson, a student in the robotics class at Concord High School.

Teens in the course created, built and manipulated robots that competed last month towards about 100 other student inventions in the 2010 VEX Robotics Competition World Championship in Dallas. Although the Concord teens didn't win the overall competitors, they came house with an education award recognizing the school for its rigorous curriculum, which focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Some teams in the competition came from clubs that mainly concentrate on building robots that may achieve the challenge, which alterations each 12 months, he mentioned. This 12 months, robots were required to scoop up small balls and plunk them on the opponent's side of a rectangular region.

Now that the Concord students are back in school, they're functioning on a brand new project unrelated to the competitors: constructing robots than can maneuver through a simulated underwater cavern and retrieve an object. The teens are excited about the challenge and methodical within their strategies.

"We're calculating buoyancy and thrust," said Nick Bublitz, 18. "It won't be, 'Build it and see if it works.' It's, 'This will work.' It's more of an industry approach instead of trial and error."

Smidebush, who began the course two many years ago, mentioned he has seen tremendous growth in his students' abilities.

"It definitely shows in their designs," Smidebush said. "They're more robust and sophisticated."

Concord High may be the only school in the Mt. Diablo district having a robotics class, even though Northgate Higher has an extracurricular robotics club, which also sent college students to the Vex competitors, Smidebush said.

The Concord Higher college students mentioned they really feel lucky to become immersed in a powerful curriculum that is preparing them for university and careers in competitive science and technologies. The robotics course is funded by the Contra Costa County Office of Education's Regional Occupational Plan, which helps guard it towards district spending budget cuts.

"Because of this class, I've found I love to program," said David Lambertson, 18, who plans to study computer programming at Brigham Young University next year.

Shelby Lope, also 18, lately got a part-time job in the Moose Metal fabrication shop in Concord, where he is understanding to plan robots that weld. Rick Sobilo, who owns the shop and hired Shelby, mentioned his daughter is also in the robotics class.

"It gets kids interested in something that's really cutting-edge," he said. "These kids have tangible, intellectual skills that they can use to go forward and develop careers. It teaches kids to conceptualize ideas and to carry them through."

Concord Higher graduate Josh Filstrup, who took robotics last 12 months, is now studying engineering at San Jose State University and working to obtain a robotics club heading there, mentioned his mother, Pam Filstrup, of Concord.

Want to get your robot on? Pick up your own Vex Robotic Kit here. For more information about the Vex Robotics competition visit www.vexrobotics.com.

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