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Coronado robotics meets 2017 ‘Steamworks’ theme

       Now in its ninth year at Coronado High School, the extracurricular robotics program has once again customized a machine to meet the rules of a national competition.

During the mulit-team scrimmage inside the school gym Feb. 18, members of the Coronado High robotics team mull improvements to the unit they've built (2996).
Westside Pioneer photo

       Events coming up for “2996” (the robot's number/name) will be March 9-11 in Utah and March 23-25 at Denver University.
       Coronado is the designated District 11 high school - though nearly all are Coronado students - for a competition organized by a nationwide private engineering organization: FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).
       Announced each January, the FIRST game is different each year, but similar in that robots invariably face off in some type of arena setting, working against the clock to score points.
       For last year's game, the robot could only be 14 inches tall as part of a recycling theme. This year's version - called “Steamworks” - requires robots that can shoot “fuel” items (wiffle-type balls) into a “boiler,” deliver plastic, functional gears to drive a rotor and climb into an “airship.” In some parts of the game, the robot must be able to operate as coded; in other parts, student “drivers” take charge of the units.
       Ryan Scherb, a freshman and budding engineer, spoke cheerfully about the development of this year's 2996, which, in addition to a maze of wiring, includes castors, an augur, wheels and a program that allows the machine to move side to side in a way that offsets the impact of being rammed by other “bots.” He said he also enjoys the sense of engineering cooperation between different teams.
       The robotics students are aided by teachers and professional volunteers - although the adults are not allowed to work on the machine itself.
       Coronado has developed a tradition of hosting a February scrimmage - using an arena students made four years ago that's modified for each year's game - as a test run for the March competitive events. According to Coronado engineering teacher/robotics coordinator Bryce McLean, 20 teams in all participated at the Feb. 18 event, taking turns trying out their units, then tinkering with them in designated mechanical areas elsewhere in the gym.
       From January through March, Coronado's roughly 50-member team works after school and Saturdays, but various related activities occur throughout the year. The robotics program is arranged like a company - junior Madison Rutherford is the CEO - and not everybody is involved in the mechanical aspects. For example, at the scrimmage were sophomore Carli Kassner, who works on community outreach; and senior Russell Bowen, who was filming the scrimmage as part of his media role.
       Coronado's outreach efforts have earned the team special FIRST awards in the past. “We have participated in many different outreach activities this year,” McLean said, “including the What If Festival, Cool Science Carnival, Safe Treats in Old Colorado City and many smaller events at schools and libraries.”

Westside Pioneer article