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Building the Future

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Photo provided Members of the Kennett Area Robotics Team compete at a state qualifier at Cape Girardeau on Jan. 26.
Local youth form group with focus on robotics

The recently formed Kennett Area Robotics Team (KART) will soon be making its way to Rolla, Mo., to compete in the Missouri State Championship for First Tech Challenge.

The group won a state qualifier on Jan. 26, at Cape Girardeau, competing against 48 other robotic teams. Also at the qualifier, KART won division champion, reserve champion alliance, and also the inspire award for best team overall. The inspire award is given to the team that embodies the challenge of the program.

Photo by Lecia Forester, staff The KART team poses with awards following a state qualifier.
KART is not associated with Kennett Public Schools, but is simply a group of young people who share the same interest in robotics. According to team members, no plans were used in building "Big Mama," the name given to the small robot which weighs only 19 pounds, four ounces and won out over other larger robots.

Members of the team include, Luke Jones, Garrett Donehoo, Lindsay Crafton, George Hrissikos, Jackson Britt, Blake Padrones, Chaz Brown, Joe Mobley, Dalton Craig, Lydia Jain, Bond Rouse, and Kara Heeb.

When asked how the group first became interested in building a robot, team member Joe Mobley said that a member from a robotics team at Puxico, Mo., came down and talked about their team and showed them the robot they had built. It got the group interested and all the members agreed that it was "pretty cool" that there was a competition they could enter that involved robots.

Team members usually met at Mobley's home every Thursday night to work on "Big Mama," which took about four and half months to build.

After "Big Mama" was built, KART entered an earlier qualifying competition at St. Louis, and after doing well there, moved on to the competition in Cape Girardeau.

During competitions, the robots built by the different teams compete against each other. The matches are played on a 12x12 field, two against two. However, the robots are not battling each other, they are trying to accomplish a task which they are programmed to do. They do push each other and try to block the other in accomplishing its task. Matches last two and a half minutes. The first 30 seconds the robots run automatically, then the drivers take over the controls. The last 30 seconds are when the points are awarded, if one robot can lift the other.

During the final part of the tournament, leading teams known as captains are allowed to choose alliance partners and can become intense as other teams are also trying to make a case in choosing them.

There is a 10 minute judged presentation where the team talk about the robot they've built, the design process, their community outreach and fundraising efforts, why they joined the team, what they've learned from the experience, and what they might pursue in college. During the day, the teams and matches are watched by the judges. Questions to the teams from the judges are also asked throughout the day. The judges are looking for teamwork, good sportmanship, as well as good performance during the actual matches.

Funding for the construction of the robot came from the teams three sponsors: Senath State Bank; Baker, Welman, and Brown; and Jain Medical Center, as well as several fundraising events.

KART members said they were very proud of what they have accomplished as a team and are glad that all the hard work has paid off. They added that with determination you can get the task done. Some mentioned they may even pursue this later on down the road.

Mobley expressed a "thank-you" to the FTC Robotic Team at Hayti, known as the "Rogue Robots" and Coach Barkovitz. The night before the competition at Cape Girardeau, "Big Mama's" motor had gone out and the team didn't have a replacement for it. Coach Barkovitz was contacted and a motor was brought over that night. KART added that if it wasn't for this generosity, they could not have competed. The Rogue Robots are a part of the career tech center in Hayti.

KART can be followed on Facebook, Google+ and at www.kennettrobotics.weebly.com

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