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Monday May 22, 2017
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Great Lakes Robot Competition

 

continued

attending on Saturday, the day of the finals.

In the very center of the arena sits a gigantic contraption that looks like a futuristic jungle gym. A circular scaffold holds twenty-four horizontal arms. The goal of the game is for the robots to place inflatable rings over those arms. The competition is held between the Blue and Red Alliances, each a group of teams from three schools. The kids who designed and built the robots stand with their controlling devices behind a large clear wall on opposite ends of the arena.

About these robots: they aren't exactly R2D2 but could advance in that direction, given enough time. Most are just variations of the same thing - a box that sits on a platform with four wheels. They all have extendable, flexible, gripping jaws for holding and placing the tubes. Most are made of a clear material, like Plexiglas, so you can see the inner workings, although some are metal. The teenagers tend to the robots with absolute ownership and a bit of reverence.

The announcer guy is wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt, black jeans, and hi-tech orange shoes. After introducing each team - big-time wrestling style - via his cordless headset, he kneels down before each robot and introduces it, too, accompanied by rabid cheers and an occasional chant from its supporters, decked out in school colors.

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