9/2/2014

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Robots take over Memorial Coliseum

Robots take over Memorial Coliseum

PORTLAND, Ore. -- If you came across this spectacle unexpectedly, you might be perplexed.

Teenagers, some dressed in strange costumes, wheeling around odd-looking pieces of machinery.

You’ve stepped into a robotics competition at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland hosted by the First organization, which aims to inspire young people to pursue science and technology fields.

Don’t let all the contraptions fool you, there’s method to this madness.

Take Sierra Payne, part of the team “Phred,” in the Philomath High Robotics Engineering Division. She has a simple strategy.

“Reliability is a huge thing for us,” she said. “We have to make sure all the robots are reliable all the time.”

Every robot designed by students tries to score points. But Phred’s machine does it differently. While most shoot Frisbees at targets, Phred has a vertical task.

“Our goal was to build a robot that could climb to the third level, which is 30 points,” Payne said.

Sure thing, amid the chaos of flying Frisbees, this robot steadily climbs to the top of the course.

Payne said she likes how she’s learning as she builds the contraptions and competes.

“In science class, you get to learn about stuff and say, ‘oh, that’s really cool,’” she said. “But this is application. I mean, we build robots.”

We won’t know how Phred performed overall until Saturday, when the competition continues through several qualifying matches.

The winners advance to a national competition in April.

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