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Sandy High Robotics Club hosts state competition

More than 80 teams expected at two-day event next weekend

Sandy High School’s Robotics Club is hoping to once again take home a trophy at the upcoming VEX Robotics Competition Oregon State Championship.

The two-day event will be from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, in the school’s main gym. It is free. POST PHOTO: ELIZABETH WENDT KELLAR - Sandy High School Robotics Club members and freshmen Tyler Routh, 14, and Jacob Syle, 15, work on their robots at an after school meeting of the club.

There are more than 30 students in the school’s Robotics Club. Senior Nathan Kentner, 18, joined the club when he was a sophomore and soon became hooked.

“I took a class at the high school and thought it was really awesome,” he said. “And I liked building robots.”

Part of the appeal is the chance to always be doing something new, said senior Kodi Lang, 17.

“It’s continual progress,” said Lang. “It’s always changing.”

Bob Tisch, the club’s staff adviser, said the club formed in 2010 and organized the first VEX competition that same year. VEX is the robotics company that sets up the competition and oversees the event, explained Aron Eslinger, the club’s parent organizer.

Sixteen Oregon high school teams attended that first competition. This year, there is the potential for more than 80 teams to bring their robotic creations to compete. Winners from the state tournament will go on to the VEX world tournament. At the 2014 world tournament, SHS’s Robotics Club finished fourth out of more than 730 teams. POST PHOTO: ELIZABETH WENDT KELLAR - Robotics Club team members test their robots tossing abilities at an after-school club meeting. Sandy HIgh School will host the VEX Robotics Competition Oregon State Championship Feb. 27-28.

Competitors on each four-person team have been working on their robots for almost a year, laboring to assemble a device that can perform the actions required for this year’s event.

The robot must be able to throw a foam ball into a net and perform a lifting maneuver. Team members are also judged on their robotics journal and their coding skills.

As high school competitions go, watching robots whirl, toss and battle to be the best might be a bit unconventional. But that’s what makes it fun, Kodi explained.

“It’s different,” she said. “It’s not like a basketball game.”

“And it’s really exciting, too,” Tisch said.