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Robot vs. robot

Elementary and middle school students from grades four through eight will demonstrate 21st century thinking skills and abilities when intricate robots they've constructed compete in the Sonoma County Robotics Challenge on Saturday, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., at Elsie Allen High School.

More than 300 students from 18 schools will participate in the Robotics Challenge. Working in teams, they will compete in six events that require skill in robot design and programming.

Bull Dozer: This event takes place in a 4-foot by 4-foot space with 8-ounce soda cans filled with sand. Competitors must design robots that detect the cans and bull doze them to "target areas." The winning robot is the one that earns the most points by pushing the soda cans to the target areas in the least amount of time.

Sumo: Robot sumo wrestling engages two robot contestants in trying to push each other out of a circular ring. The first robot to touch the floor outside of the ring loses. The last robot remaining in the ring wins.

Off Road Racing: Off Road Racing involves a 16-foot long course with blocks of wood placed at different intervals. The object of this event is to design a robot that will overcome the barriers, stay on track, and finish in the fastest time.

Free-Form Challenge: This year's free-form challenge encourages student teams to explore the idea of "basketball." A team may pick any task to accomplish using a planned script of actions. The only requirement is that the robot follow the planned script.

Hit a Brick: This activity requires competitors to design robots that will recognize and follow a black line from start to finish, then stop at the end when it "hits a brick."

The winner completes the course in the fastest time.

Drag Racing: Students will race robots on a track that is 16-feet long, with a goal of beating their opponents to the finish line.

Work on the Sonoma County Robotics Challenge spans the months of February through April. Competitors learn of the challenge events in February.


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