SoHi Robot near ready to compete

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2002

As you read this, the completed SoHi Robot is on its way from Soldotna to Seattle where it will face its first regional match of "Robotic ball" at the end of March.

At last Tuesday's Soldotna Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Riverside House, Steve Horn, executive director of the Challenger Learning Center, and Bill Carlson, Metals and Drafting teacher at Soldotna High School, updated the Chamber on the progress of the school districts first entry in the national Robotics Competition.

"Within a week, we have to finish building a hopper, and a ball handler. We have an arm that will attach to the goal, but it won't release yet, and we still need to build an extending arm that will extend at least 10 feet from the robot that will be able to score points during the competition," said Carlson. SoHi students have been involved from four different classes with the myriad of tasks required to design, engineer, and fabricate the robot.

According to Carlson students have been working after school and weekends on the project that was brought to the school by Steve Horn, executive director of the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska. While NASA contributed a $6,000 grant through the Challenger Learning Center, and Phillips Alaska another $3,000, many other major corporate contributions have added to make the materials and software that are part of the project, "I'd estimate that the cost of all the materials and components are more like $30,000 rather than the $6,000 that it costs to enter the competition," said Carlson.

Six of the most devoted students and two teachers will travel to Seattle in March to compete along with their robot. Travel expenses for the team have been donated by local business and professional people in the area, "We'd love to take more of the students, but we are limited to the funds we have raised," said Carlson. If successful at the regional level, the team and robot will be eligible to compete at the national finals in April to be held in Orlando Florida.

All of the teams across the nation have had six weeks to design and construct, using only approved components, a 135-pound robot that will push a 181-pound goal to the far side of the playing field assisted by an ally robot, and pick up 60 soccer balls and return to their home field, while being opposed by two other robots.

According to Steve Horn, the competition will be televised over satellite TV on the NASA channel. Any one interested in contributing to travel expenses for the students can contact Bill Carlson, Bruce Rife, or Dana Edwards at SoHi, or Steve Horn at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska.

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