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Students Participate at East Bay Robot Competition

Imagine the daunting job of navigating via the rubble of the plane accident, attempting to get the pilot and extricate him to safety while rubble, rough terrain and obstacles‚ all in less than two minutes.

The job is component of the regional qualifying round for Robofest, a state robotics competitors that is going to be open to the public Saturday at Windemere Ranch Middle School. Admisison is free.

Groups from San Ramon, Livermore and Fremont will all participate.

"Trying to help students learn math and science skills that's pretty much what we're about," saidTiffany Platt, an assistant coordinator for Robofest, which is facilitated by Lawrence Technological University in Michigan.

Each year the objective which can be performed on a 36-by-72-foot table utilizing bottles and other items, for example pencils taped to the table to replicate rough terrain is assorted to keep it new.
The teams are comprised of students who are members of their particular schools' robotics clubs. The 3 schools are the only program participants from California, and also the winners in each division will move on to the Globe Robofest Championship in May. The event, which is usually sponsored by technologies corporations and other industry members, also includes a robot fashion and dance show and exhibitions.

Rich Osborne, a former computer project manager who teaches advanced technology at Windemere Ranch, has run the club the past two years. He mentioned students understand mathematical, analytical and technical skills, but discovering to perform with each other on a project may be the most essential experience they glean from participation.

The chance to compete with others is the driving force that keeps the students motivated to participate in the voluntary after-school club, he said.

"The focus of competition, I think, just crystallizes everything," he said.

Livermore High's students have been active in Robofest the past four years, even winning very first place in the 2008 globe championship senior division and earning a trophy, a new robot the team donated towards the college, and scholarships to Lawrence Tech.

Solving every mission requires students to understand personal computer programming language that is utilized widely in the industry, making it useful for future careers, said Mike Waltz, Livermore High's industrial technologies teacher.

"The robots are actually just Legos, just toys, but some of the engineering used to make them work is pretty sophisticated," said Waltz, who instructs a robotics course in addition to serving as the teams' coach.

For 11-year-old Windemere student Avinash Jois whose father Jagdish Jois, a software consultant, is really a volunteer coach delving into the relatively new concept of artificial intelligence is intriguing.

"It's fun to program the robots to do stuff," he said.

While Jois' family is slated to become in the cheering section, the teachers are seeking to inspire others within the education field to partake in the low-cost competition where materials could be reused every year.

"We're really hoping other middle schools and high schools will get interested in this program," Waltz said.

If you're interested in learning more about robotic kits and building one yourself start today by picking up a beginners robot kit here on Cool Robot Toys.

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