By Joe Olenick
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
On the surface, the game seems easy enough. It’s like basketball, so you have to get the ball in the hoop to score points.
But there’s much more to this game. For starters, this version of basketball will use robots built and programmed by high school students competing in FIRST robotics.
FIRST is the “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” organization, a group that introduces students to professional engineers and mentors to promote science and technology as career possibilities. High school students enter competitions that require them to design, build and program robots to complete certain tasks.
This year, Lockport and Newfane High Schools are preparing for another season of robot competition. And in 2012, the task is the robots they’ve created will have to make as many baskets as possible in a 2- minute-15-second match. There are multiple baskets set up in a diamond pattern.
The FIRST students only have about six weeks from when they find out what the year’s task will be to when their robot will have to be complete. That’s not a lot of time for the amount of work needed to get done.
Colin Stutz, 17, a senior at Lockport, said the team breaks off into groups with specific jobs. Discussion starts on exactly what they want the robot to do and how.
“We figure out how we’re going to do it, what needs to be done, develop good strategies,” Stutz said.
“So most of our first week is brainstorming and prototyp- ing,” said Mercedes Handley, 16, a Lockport junior.