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Warren High robot squad readies for rumble

Working base (from left) are Brad Shearer senior Jim Shane HighlPark who is project engineer Abbott Laboratories John Detter junior

Working on the base (from left) are Brad Shearer a senior, Jim Shane of Highland Park who is a project engineer at Abbott Laboratories, John Detter a junior, Tyler Thompson a sophomore, Alex Wagner a sophomore, and Emma Castanos a junior as Warren High School students in Project Lead The Way build a robot to navigate a course and shoot baskets into a hoop at the school's O'Plaine Campus. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

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Founded in 1989, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) tries to inspire youth to be leaders in science and technology by engaging them in mentor-based programs. FIRST offers robotics and technical challenges to high school students; Lego Leagues for fourth- through eighth-graders; and a junior Lego League for grades kindergarten through third.

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Updated: March 20, 2012 1:15AM

GURNEE — About 30 students at Warren Township High School are getting ready to rumble.

Or, more accurately, they are building a robot to rumble on their behalf at the 2012 Rebound Rumble robotics game.

“It’s huge. It’s across the nation,” said student Algis Marcinkevicius, a Warren High senior.

Robot Rumble is the 2012 FIRST Robotics challenge. FIRST — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology — is a non-profit organization trying to further youth interest in the science and technology fields. Teams compete at regional tournaments and then advance to final match at the national level.

The Warren High team, The Blue Devil Builders, will compete against about 50 other teams in March at a tournament in Milwaukee, Marcinkevicius said.

There are more than 2,300 robotics teams at more than 58,000 participating high schools, according to FIRST. There are 52 regional tournaments leading up to FIRST championships to be held in St. Louis from April 25 to April 28.

Robotics teams must build a functional robot in six weeks using a kit supplied by FIRST. Students are challenged to program a robot to shoot basketball hoops.

The objective is to score as many points as possible during the two-minute and 15-second round at tournaments in a course FIRST created.

Marcinkevicius said FIRST gave the team a digital version of the playing field. Blue Devil Builders are building their own mockups of the hoops, which are up to more than four feet tall, he said.

“Everybody is working together to build and program the robot,” Marcinkevicius said. “It’s up to (participating) teams to figure out how to make the robot shoot hoops.”

Students have been subdivided into groups. The field team is constructing the mock arena. The robot team is making the robot, another team is handling the programming and a PR team is working on a team Web site and social media pages, Marcinkevicius said.

He also said that Abbott Laboratories funded the program and provided at least eight mentors to aid the team.

“Right now, we have got the robot moving. It’s very basic,” Marcinkevicius said.

They have until Feb. 22 to finish their robot.

Warren High teacher Josh Greene said this was the first year the school has participated in FIRST Robotics.

“One of the biggest (benefits) is (students) are learning how to troubleshoot on their own. Students have to figure it out,” Greene said.

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