Coronado robotics students unveil latest model

       With participation at an all-time high in the national program's fifth year, robotics students at Coronado High are seeking a repeat regional championship this spring.

Showing its readiness for this year's "Ultimate Ascent" game, the Coronado High robot (2996) slings frisbees to robotics team members and family supporters at the annual banquet in the school cafeteria Feb. 19. A total of 61 students are on this year's team.
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       A total of 61 students are involved in the extracurricular engineering effort, which required construction within six weeks of a robot which (new for this year's game) can aim frisbees, pick them up and climb a tube-constructed pyramid.
       The finished robot, retaining its original as-signed number (2996), was demonstrated at a scrimmage with other schools at Coronado Feb. 16 and at the annual robotics banquet Feb. 19. Under the rules, the students can't work on the unit again until the formal competitive event in Kansas City March 14-16 and again in Denver April 4-6.
       Twice in its four-year history, including last year, 2996 has been part of an “alliance” with robots from other schools that took first in Denver, qualifying the Coronado team for a higher competitive level that includes robots from other countries.
       The game, played between two alliances of three teams, changes annually. This year it's “Ultimate Ascent,” in which student-programmed/controlled ro-bots aim flying discs at goals during a two-minute and 15-second match, explains a press release from the program organizers, named FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). FIRST is a nonprofit national organization that seeks to encourage young engineers and foment cooperation within competitive situations.

Speaking to family, teaching staff and other supporters during Coronado High's annual robotics banquet, senior Joshua Munson, a four-year team member and this year's CEO, discusses the effort involved in the extracurricular project. Behind him can be seen most of the other 60 students on the team, as well as the robot itself (2996) that the students have been designing, building and programming over the past six weeks to get ready for competitions in March and April.
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       Building the robot takes some effort, considering that all the students are given is a “kit of parts consisting of motors, batteries, a control system, a PC and a mix of automation components - with no instructions,” the release adds.
       Students can get help from “mentors” (parents, teaching staff and/or career engineers), although the adults are not allowed to work on the machine.
       Joshua Munson, the CEO for this year's team and also an aspiring engineer, has signed up for robotics since he was a freshman. He said the six-week project meant being at school until 8 or 9 at night, then going home to “pound out homework, but it's all worth it.”

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