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Teens' enduring robotic team starts new season


by: DAVID F. ASHTON - During the August Lents Founders Day celebration, FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1432 was on hand to demonstrate how their robot, used in this springs regional competition, launches flying disks. They were also presenting at the Multnomah County Fair at Oaks Park on Memorial Day weekend. The FIRST Robotics team – several years ago inexplicably cast out of Franklin High School where most of its members were students – continues to help young people learn more about science, math, and engineering, and help them to get into college.

“We also help our kids learn valuable skills, like teamwork,” said Rebecca LohKamp, perennial mentor and booster of the “Mahr’s Metal Beavers” FIRST Robotics Competition Team #1432.

During the summer, students and their mentors in this after-school activity promoted the program and their club at fairs and community events all over the area. Students also had the opportunity to take three technical classes during school vacation.

“We have six new freshmen on the team who are learning how to work with shop tools safely. And, we are working hard to get this year’s sophomores up and running,” revealed LohKamp.

In addition to building their big competition robot starting in January, the group has stared on a training event called “Bunny Bots”.

“This is the students’ opportunity to learn how to build a robot before the major competition,” LohKamp explained. “Team members learn skills they will need like brainstorming, mechanical design, and Computer-Aided Design.”

The kickoff for the major annual competition is on January 4, she said. “There will be 11 district events. Each team is expected to attend two district events, at a cost of $5,000 in registration fees, plus the cost of building the robot, housing, and travel.”

If the team scores high enough in the regional competitions, they earn the opportunity to attend the Pacific Northwest Championship at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum next spring.

The club is financially supported by donations and grants from individuals and organizations, with the Southeast Portland Rotary Club Foundation serving as their fiscal agent, LohKamp said.

“We invite the community to support our work by attending our fall spaghetti feed on October 12 at the Reedwood Friends Church, 2901 S.E. Steele Street. It runs from 5:30 to 7 pm, with a presentation at 7 about the program, followed by a gift basket auction.

Find out more about the good work they do, and how to support this nonprofit organization, by visiting their website: HYPERLINK "team1432.org/" www.team1432.org/.