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Another Robot team, with homeschoolers from Western PA makes it to the World Competition!
The Terabytes Robotics Team!, 4/20/2012

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: a while back I shared a terrific article about the eastern PA team of junior high level homeschoolers taking part in the robotics competition-- now here's news on a senior level team! AND they are also looking to do a major service project with their robot down in Guatemala at a children's home-- read on! Also,   if you are in the Plum, PA area, the Terabytes would like to invite you to their team room at Bible Baptist Church (200 Elicker Road, Plum) for an Open House on Saturday, April 21, 2012 from 12 to 6pm to see their robot in action.


     A local team of seven high school students, team 4149 the Terabytes, has earned their way to the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) World competition in St. Louis in late April.

     The FIRST organization (www.usfirst.org) was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology.  They work to accomplish this goal through mentor based programs such as the FIRST Tech Challenge.  The FTC competition is played on a twelve by twelve foot playing area where four robots in alliances of two compete to earn the most points.  This year the challenge involves picking up racquetballs, putting them in baskets, then stacking the baskets or raising them super high.  There are also bowling balls on the field that can be pushed around to be scored.  A match starts out with a thirty second autonomous period followed by a two minute teleop(remote controlled) period.  There are also a variety of judged awards based on the team’s outreach, engineering design, ingenuity, and other factors.  The highest award in FTC is the Inspire Award.  The Inspire Award is given to the team whom the judges thought was the best “role model”, and was a strong competitor in all the judging categories as well as on the field.

     FTC Robotics team 4149 the Terabytes, based in the Pittsburgh area, recently qualified for the World FTC competition at the Ohio state championship in Cleveland.  Though the Terabytes didn’t win the competition on the field, they were honored to receive the Inspire Award which ensured them a seat at the World Competition.  They are the only team from western Pennsylvania to qualify at the FTC level.  Twenty thousand people are expected to attend the four day robotics festival which encompasses 4 levels of robotics competition.

     While the Terabytes are very excited to have the opportunity to represent the region at the world competition, they have their sights set on a goal a little further away.  Recently two team members visited children’s home in Guatemala on a church sponsored mission trip.  After their return they shared their great experiences with their fellow team members.  The whole team then realized what a great opportunity they had to share their love of engineering and science with kids who otherwise might not have the chance to do something like this.

     The team has started raising funds to provide NXT Lego Mindstorms robot kits and other training materials for this school.  They also plan to send a team to visit the school and help the teachers become familiar with the training material.  The team’s ultimate goal is to give these kids some experience in science that might lead to a career opportunity in a technology field.  You can find out more about their mission by going to www.robotsforaguaviva.com .  You can also learn more about the children’s home by going to www.aguavivahome.org .


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