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Robot builders now ready for competition

Photo by Rachelle Klemme. Drew Larson sends sparks flying.1 / 2
Photo by Rachelle Klemme [group] Several students on the WDC Terminators spend President's Day building a robot for the upcoming FIRST Robotics competition. From left, Adam Leverson, Dylan Gilster, Joey Pate, Drew Larson and Henry Arrigoni.2 / 2

Wadena-Deer Creek High School students are participating in the FIRST Robotics competition for the second year.

While other kids had Presidents' Day off, the Terminators Team 3839 worked in the otherwise empty M State building to beat the clock and have the robot ready by Tuesday evening to send to the competition which will take place March 8-10 in Duluth.

"This robot is designed to pick up a basketball," instructor Mike Shrode said.

After receiving the challenge assignment, students are given about six weeks to get the job done. Last year, the challenge was to build a robot which could pick up and hang up triangular inner tubes.

This year, Shrode said, the challenge was to build a robot capable of playing basketball for "Rebound Rumble."

At the Lake Superior Regional competition, they will be joined with two other randomly selected school teams to play three-on-three basketball against three other teams' robots.

If they win at the regional competition, they go on to the national competition in St. Louis.

There is flexibility in how the students are allowed to program the robots, and the Terminators robot is a dunker - it is designed to reach and drop the ball into the hoop.

Teams are also judged on how well they cooperate, sportsmanship, professionalism and teamwork.

All of last year's students who could return to the team this year did so - and some new students have joined as well.

Senior Dylan Gilster contributed structural work on the robot, building the chassis. He said his favorite part was working with his hands and problem solving.

Another returning contestant and sophomore Adam Leverson worked mostly on the arm.

Junior Joey Pate is a programmer, using C++ to drive any moving parts and meet the challenge for the robot's assigned tasks.

Juniors Josh Lund, Drew Larson and Henry Arrigoni are first year participants.

Lund said he decided to join because some of his friends were in it. After checking it out the first day, he decided to be on the team. He said he helped with fundraising and a little bit on the robot.

Larson designed the arm, and he was also keeping track of the rules such as distances, lengths and restrictions.

Arrigoni designed the team's logo and acted as a helping hand. He and Leverson were also in the state-qualifying One Act and juggled robotics and drama for a while.

Other students listed on the team's flyer are Lacena Brown, Ashley Tuttle, Levi Willis, Kyle Gedde, Andrew Lemke and Neil Janson.

The WDC Terminators are also helping other area schools like Staples and Brooten-Belgrade-Elrosa.

Shrode started the engineering program which is part of S.T.E.M. to promote science, technology, engineering and math.

Shrode said the FIRST Robotics competition blends science and math theory with engineering and technology practice.

According to the flyer, the FIRST Robotics program was developed by NASA to ignite young minds by developing critical thinking skills and establishing lifelong habits of gracious professionalism.