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Robotics is a 'team sport'

Award-winning Team Axis is hosting tech tourney this weekend at Lake Oswego High

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Team Axis robot, Oscar, lifts and drops balls into an elevated container during a competition. Colin Mitchell operates the robot while Owen Chu helps with strategy.It would have been impressive enough had Team Axis 7187 just earned the top honor during a robotics tournament last weekend in The Dalles.

But, not only did the 13-member team snag the Inspire Award at the First Lego League event, it did so with 10 new members who had never tried robotics before, says Veronica Mitchell, who coaches the team with her husband Gary.

“I’m really proud of the kids; they did a phenomenal job,” she says.

To top it off, Team Axis is hosting a robotics tournament this weekend at Lake Oswego High School and is inviting the public to stop on in and learn about robotics (no charge). Last weekend, Team Axis qualified for what’s called the super-qualifier, which is the step before state. That’s why it can facilitate this weekend’s qualifying competition for other area teams, an event LOHS has supported mightily, team captain Colin Mitchell says.

“On behalf of all of the kids on our team, we’d just like to thank the high school for their support,” he says.

First Lego League offers a slew of robotics programs, including the one Team Axis is competing in, called the First Tech Challenge. The FTC, for grades seven to 12, involves designing, building and programming robots that then face off doing specific tasks in competitions.

Colin Mitchell says participating in FTC has taught him about leadership and teamwork.

“Robotics is just as much of a team sport as any other, so I’ve personally learned how to work together as a team and make sure everyone has a part in a robot,” says Colin Mitchell, an LOHS sophomore.

On Saturday, 24 teams from throughout the area will set their robots on the tournament table, and on Sunday, 26 teams will face off to win a spot in the super-qualifier scheduled for Feb. 21.

Team Axis member Daniar Imanbayev will be emceeing and providing commentary on robotics matches alongside a fellow student at the tournament this weekend. Imanbayev, an LOHS junior, says robotics has given him the opportunity to use computer programming on a robot and see how that code translates into action.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is the cohesion of programming and engineering: Sometimes, what you write in code doesn’t necessarily work out in reality,” he says.

Team Axis seems to have it figured out. Parent volunteer Dave Matthys says student teams in general are incredibly creative with their bots, “If you come to this tournament, you’ll be amazed about what students came up with.”

What’s the next step for Team Axis? They’re off to the state battle of the bots in March.

Whoever earns the trophy, robotics offers students not only opportunities to learn leadership, teamwork and science-technology-engineering-math concepts but also the chance to meet people in the community. And, wherever they go, they’ve found a family of friends.

Imanbayev says Team Axis is a tight-knit group of students from all walks of life: “We’ve got a pretty diverse group. We’ve got dancers, we’ve got musicians, skiers. I’m a varsity wrestler.”

By Jillian Daley
503-636-1281, ext. 109
email: jdaley@lakeoswegoreview.com
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