Scrimmage with 15 schools helps Coronado robotics prep for regionalsCoronado High hosted a robotics scrimmage Feb. 14 that attracted competitors from 15 schools, several of them from outside the area.
The eight-hour event in the school gym gave the schools, including Coronado, a chance to try out the robots they have been working on since early January.
Coronado students built a scrimmage arena the first time the school hosted such an event in 2012, matching the space to the required game size.
The arena Feb. 14 also featured the specially provided crates, recycling containers and styrofoam "litter" that are called for in this year's game, titled Recycle Rush.
Robotics is an annual extracurricular activity for students, emphasizing not only competition but also cooperation and community service. Different each year, the game rules and materials are provided by a national organization called FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). The students participating must build robots that can play the game (adults are allowed to advise but not do any of the actual work.) The cooperation aspect can be seen in the need for team alliances (three on a side in this year's game rules), and FIRST
Coronado's program is called Cougars Gone Wired, and its assigned number is 2996. Technically (since last year), it's the "District 11" robotics team. Coronado applied technology instructor Gary Hilty, who's helped guide the program since its start in 2009, said about 70 students are involved this year, all from Coronado except for a few from Woodland Park, Palmer, Doherty and a home school.
Helping out - though no longer an engineering teacher at Coronado - is Bryce McLean, who had also helped start the team but transferred this year to Jenkins Middle School, where he is an assistant principal.
Coronado senior Tracey Jaron, the Cougars Gone Wired CEO this year, said 2996 performed well at the scrimmage but needed some improvements. Under FIRST rules, robots must be “bagged” by Feb. 17 - and can't be worked on again until actual competition - so Jaron said the students would be spending time between the scrimmage and the 17th.
However, the rules don't disallow the building of a “copy” robot. So when the “real” unit is packed away, “we continue to use the practice robot to make modifications,” Jaron said. “Finally, when we get to competition, we tweak the competition robot to match the updated practice robot.”
According to McLean, the team will be competing in the Utah regional event
To a large degree, Jaron explained, she is following in the footsteps of her older siblings Peter and Leah - both Coronado alumni who participated in robotics and now are majoring in engineering fields in college.
Leah was at the Feb. 14 scrimmage. A member of Coronado's first team in 2009, Leah recalled it as a good experience, but with only about 20 students then. "It's really grown," she commented.
Tracey hopes to attend Stanford next year, pursuing a biomedical engineering degree. Unlike some students who get into robotics as freshmen, she didn't join until her junior year. “I loved the idea of applying the skills I'd learned in my classes to something more hands-on, which robotics has allowed me to do,” she said.
Other student leaders on this year's Cougars team are Sami King, chief financial officer; Krystall Romero, Maggie Guinta, Grace Wilson and Laura Parriera, business vice presidents; and Ben Fox, Quentin Baker, Bryan Kassner, Thayer Shepherd, Hannah Levy and Nate Perkins, technical VPs.
In keeping with the community service emphasis, the FIRST format incorporates a separate Chairman's Award to honor such efforts (for which Coronado has been recognized at regional events in 2011, 2013 and 2014). According to a team spokesperson, entities/activities benefiting from Cougars Gone Wired outreach this year include the Ruth Washburn School, the Coronado Homecoming Parade, the Race for the Cure at the Garden of the Gods, a charity ball at the Elks Lodge, the Sea Perch event at Coronado, an eighth grade career fair and several elementaries (mentoring).
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