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Fighting ZBots to host robotics competition Jan. 28

By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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Robots from regional high schools will gather in the Lincoln High School gym on Jan. 28 to show off what they’ve got. That’s because Lincoln High School FIRST Robotics Team, also known as the Fighting ZBots, are hosting the First Tech Challenge competition. This is the second year for the team, and the first year for the Fighting ZBots two middle school teams, said club adviser Marilou Edwards. The four Fighting ZBots teams will compete against 12 schools “from all over the Bay Area,” according to Edwards. Edwards said the school was asked to host the competition because they earned the title of Rookie All-Stars last year. Major sponsors for the event include the Lincoln Community Foundation, Lincoln Education Foundation and JC Penny, according to Edwards. Lincoln’s FIRST Robotics Team currently has four teams working to build four small robots, according to Edwards, and there are two teams of high school students, one team of Twelve Bridges Middle School students and a team of Glen Edwards Middle School students. “I’m hoping by starting at a younger age with the middle-school kids, we will keep building the program,” Edwards said. The four teams are working on building one small robot per team. All four will compete during the Jan. 28 competition. “It’s a team effort and it’s fun,” said Eddie Scheiber, 12. Eddie is a sixth-grade student at Twelve Bridges Middle School. “We get to learn new things.” Eddie said his team’s robot will have a swinging arm to handle the racquet balls and bowling ball during the competition. Hanna Lake, 13, from the Glen Edwards Middle School team, said their robot will use a piece of plastic “to push the racquetballs and bowling balls,” rather than an arm for grabbing. Hanna, an eighth-grader, said “it’s something for you to do with your hands” by working on robots. “It’s a lot of fun and a lot of colleges give scholarships for robotics,” Hanna said. Zachary Snodgrass, 17, and a senior at Lincoln High School, is back on the Fighting ZBots for a second year. “Initially getting ideas that work is probably the hardest part (of building the robots),” Snodgrass said. During competition, Edwards said the small robots have to perform specific tasks. “They’ve got to put racquet balls into plastic bins and then they stack the bins,” Edwards said. “The robots will also have to place a bowling ball on top of a rack.” In March, the team will travel to University of California at Davis for the First Robotics Challenge, according to Edwards, which is where the team’s 120-pound robot will compete. “This year, the challenge is basketball and our robot has to work with other robots,” Edwards said. “You form two teams of three robots each and the basic idea is to get the basketball in the hoop.” Edwards said some team members have already started building the big robot and the team is currently recruiting new members. “Because it’s a bigger robot, we need more skills,” Edwards said. “We need programmers, welders, builders and we’ve been trying to train kids on mechanical engineering.” The News Messenger asked Edwards how being involved with the Fighting ZBots benefits students. “The main thing is it gets the kids exposed to robotics technology,” Edwards said. “A lot of things they use in school, like math and science, they can use in a real-world situation and apply it.”