Looking for a fun event Friday, Saturday? Check out the EWHS Robotics Team in competition

Members of the EWHS Robotics team put the robots through their paces during a practice round Thursday. (Photos provided by Aleen Yamasaki)
A close-up of the E-W robot.

There’s no school in Edmonds Friday, and Edmonds mom Aleen Yamasaki has a suggestion for how local public school students and their parents can spend their day: Cheer on Edmonds-Woodway High School’s first-ever Robotics team as they compete in the First Robotics Regional Competition at Century Link Events Center.

EWHS will be one of approximately 100 high school teams in the competition, which runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. Nine E-W students are participating, along with four to five professional engineers — many from the Boeing Co. — who are serving as mentors, Yamasaki said.

This is the 21st annual Robotics competition sponsored by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), founded by  inventor Dean Kamen in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Qualifiers who move on from local and regional events will end up in the National Robotics Competition in St. Louis in April.

Yamasaki’s son Maxx and Kevin Marshall are co-leaders of the Robotics team, and E-W student members and their mentors — including Kevin Marshall’s mother, Carmen, a Boeing engineer — gathered at Century Link Events Center on Thursday for practice rounds.

Each year there is a task the robots must complete, and this year’s has to do with moving and shooting basketballs, Aleen Yamasaki said. According to the FIRST website, participating teams received a kit of parts made up of motors, batteries, a control system, a PC, and a mix of automation components – but no instructions. Working with adult mentors, students have six weeks to design, build, program, and test their robots to meet the season’s engineering challenge. The competitions are designed “to measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students,” according to the FIRST website.

The upshot of the “Rebound Rumble” competition is this: Each school must design and build a robot that can shoot basketballs. Then a game of sorts is played by two competing “Alliances” on a flat, 27-foot-by-54-foot field. Each Alliance consists of three robots, and they compete to score as many basketballs into their hoops as they can during a 2 minute and 15 second match. The higher the hoop in which the basketball is scored, the more points the Alliance receives.

You can learn more about the competition by watching a video here.

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