Gearing Up for Robotics Competition

10-14-05 – Kids of all ages have loved robots for generations, but a local competition is turning that love into a test of skills. Last year’s champions could repeat, but you won’t find them a public or private school.

With just a task and a few tools, kids face the challenge of building a robot that simulates a battery replacement operation on the Hubble Telescope. It’s a part of the Boosting Engineering and Science Technology – B.E.S.T. – competition in science and technology. Dozens of teams will compete for local and regional titles. The Texoma Home Educators won last year.

“The children are super-enthusiastic about this. Their ability to get excited and stick with the task for 6 weeks is highly energetic,” says Lisa Cox, a Gunter home schooling mom.

The kids worked for weeks on “Galaxy Gus,” their robot made of a bicycle tire, rubber bands, wood blocks and a small motor. They’ve logged hundreds of hours and raised $4,000 on the project. This Saturday they’ll test it at Midway Mall in Sherman with other teams’ creations.

The kids say lots of schools take the competition seriously, and they fall into that group. But what drives the home schoolers to win is their reputation.

“It's nice to put out a name for home schoolers because a lot of people think we just sit at home and do nothing, but we do have a life,” says 15-year-old Phillip Walker.

The Texoma Home Educators came in first in the local competition last year, and top ten at regionals.

The local Game Day competition is October 22nd at Van Alstyne High School. Kids will compete in a three-minute robot operation task, as well as an academic presentation. Those winners will go on to the southwest region finals in Dallas late this fall.