VIDEO: Tahoma High Robotics club Bear Metal competes in regional challenge

Tahoma High robotics club, Bear Metal, competed in the regional challenge at Key Arena in Seattle March 27-29.

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competition was three days of fun and competition for the students.

FIRST, located in Manchester, N.H., was founded in 1989 to inspire young people in the field of science and technology.

The Tahoma club is made up of about 40 students and the club advisor is Tahoma High physics teacher, Darren Collins.

The club’s task was to build a robot in six weeks for the FIRST competition.

The members of the team designed a 5-foot-tall robot weighing 120 pounds that pulled a trailer on a low-friction floor and shot moon rocks into an opponent’s trailer. Along with designing and building the robot, the team wrote the computer code to control the machine.

The team traveled to Portland regional challenge March 5 and went up against 50 schools. The Bear Metal robot came in second.

In the Seattle regional contest the team hoped move onto the international championship in Atlanta, Ga.

Friday, Collins said there were a “lot of tough teams. The fields are deeper than in Portland, but we are doing all right.”

After each match the teams scurry to fix any problems before the next round, which last about two minutes.

Senior Andrew Kerr said, “It’s been fun. We meet a lot of new people and the competition is always fun.”

Chad Hohn, a senior, drove the robot during the competition with co-pilot Adam Wagener, a sophomore. Hohn said he was in charge of picking the moon rocks up and Wagener unloaded.

“The robot works through a conveyor system,” Hohn said.

The robot is capable of shooting eight moon rocks per second Hohn said.

According to sophomore Sean Messenger, by the end of Friday the team had moved from eighth to a tie for third place and was seeded 17 out of 67 teams.

Messenger said on Saturday during the alliance selection when the top eight teams picked two teams to make up a single team, the Bear Metal team was picked in the first set by team 360 from Bellarmine Preparatory.

Messenger said in an e-mail, the alliance team won the first match 72-38, but lost the second by two points.

In the third and deciding match Messenger wrote, “We lost due to a supreme strategy and well played game by our opponents, and everyone thought back to the second match… only two points, one ball, would have made a huge, decisive difference!”

Although the team and robot did not make the trip to Atlanta, the team made an impressive showing for Tahoma High.