Plans are in the final stages for the annual Robotics Expo and FIRST LEGO League Qualifier, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 7, at Berthoud High School. Forty-eight teams from Berthoud, Arvada, Aurora, Estes Park, Fort Collins, Golden, Longmont, Louisville, Loveland and Windsor will attend this year’s event.
Many different events will be taking place during the Expo, including the VEX Robotics scrimmage, booths from local robotics companies, Little Thompson Observatory viewing and the headline event, the Thompson School District FIRST LEGO League Qualifier.
“We are very excited to have the Robotics Expo back in Berthoud,” said Chris Garcia, BHS principal. “With teams coming from many different school districts, we are pleased to show off our high school and our STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) program. We are proud of our outstanding facility and curriculum, our regionally-respected Little Thompson Observatory, Thompson River Project and Aims Community College partnerships. Hosting the first-class programs at the Robotics Expo brings like-minded students to our school.”
The VEX Robotics scrimmage is a warm-up for the Colorado championship scheduled for February 2010. The field is set up with four teams on a 12 x 12 playing field and is all based on foam softballs, footballs and a beach ball. Teams compete against one another to get fewer balls on their side of the field. This robotics game is a very challenging format and is meant for upper middle school and high school students.
The FIRST LEGO League is a 2½ minute challenge for students, age 9 to 14, played on a 4 x 8-foot table. The robots are actually made out of LEGO bricks with a programmable “brick”, motors and sensors. Students prepare for six weeks and participate at the tournament in this qualifier event. Teams that perform at a high level will be promoted to the Colorado FIRST LEGO League Championship in Denver. In addition to the robot event, the teams submit research projects, perform a technical design review and improvise in a teamwork activity in three judged events.
All this activity is free to the public and concessions will be available, supporting the BHS robotics club. The best time for viewing the activity is between noon and 4 p.m., when the Little Thompson Observatory will be open for tours. Also in the afternoon several local companies and organizations will come to show their contribution to technology in area communities.
“Many people do not realize how many robotics companies there are in northern Colorado and in the Front Range,” said Mark Gordon, president of Stratom, Inc. a start-up engineering firm in Boulder. “There are many, many small companies that have a high technology focus within miles of each other in our area. We need a highly educated and tech-focused work force. This is why Stratom has sponsored these events since the beginning.”