By Jackie Dumbleton
Meridian Times staff writer
The team, seven students from Haslett Middle School, St. Martha’s, and Haslett High School, will travel with Coach Claus Buchholz to the competition, April 19 – 21.
This is the team’s second year competing, although most of the students competed with the Haslett FIRST Lego League prior to joining VEX Robotics.
To qualify for the world championship, the team must compete in local tournaments.
“We competed in four tournaments in Michigan this year and won the Grandville tournament,” said Buchholz. “Excellence Award winners also qualify, as we did last year.”
For the 2011-2012 season, the students created “Steve,” a scissor-lift scorer that has a high-power drive system that enables it to easily move obstacles. “Steve” is programmed to reach a goal a standard goal of 30 inches high.
During matches, the robots are allied with another VEX Robotics team and the objective is to fill their goal with as many balls and barrels as possible before time runs out.
The Raptors are sponsored by MSU’s College of Engineering. Students interact with college engineers to learn to build and program their robots using RobotC language, which is common coding in student-based robotics.
The students use Lego Mindstorm Robots, small programmable robots specially made by Lego for school Lego Leagues. Each year’s competitions are themed, such as food safety or transportation, and it is up to the team to create a robot that performs simple tasks related to the theme.
All-day competitions are held in October and November. Scoring is based not only on a team’s robot, but also on the team’s ability to work together and exemplify the core values of the competition.
“It’s more important what we learn than what we gain,” said Sneed.
Currently, there are three Lego Leagues and 1 VEX Robotics, but due to the overwhelming student involvement in these programs, Haslett schools are hoping to expand the number teams in the school district to five Lego League and two VEX Robotics teams.
To do this, the teams will be holding a robotics open house 6-9 p.m. April 11 at the Haslett Middle School cafeteria. Their goal is to raise $10,000 to fund the teams in the upcoming season.