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MoCo RoBo: Challenge received

Moffat County High robotics team is building their climbing, ball-shooting robot for late-March competition

MoCo Robo robotics team members, from left, Chase Serio, Kadin Hume, Alex Nichols, Rory Merrick, Neveah Allen, Amelia Seim and Cody Eckhoff pose for a photo with their team flag and the chassis of their robot in this December file photo.
Eliza Noe / Craig Press

Moffat County High School’s robotics team is gearing up for competition after receiving the details on the challenge that their robot must complete this year. The team competes in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competition, a national league with teams at schools across the country.

This year, the team — dubbed MoCo RoBo — will build a machine that can not only gather and shoot objects into baskets but also traverse or climb multiple ascending rungs.

Team adviser Kristen Nichols told the Craig Press via email on Thursday that the team of students has been very busy planning how to tackle this year’s game since learning of the rules in January. This year’s game is called RAPID REACT, and is presented by Boeing.



“We are focusing on the climbing aspect of the competition,” Nichols wrote. “We have built a replica of the game piece that the robot must climb and are currently in the process of building the climbing mechanism. If all goes as planned, we should be able to test our design in the next week or so.”

During their competitions, robotics teams are placed into groups of three teams and compete against other randomized groups of teams. For every ball scored into a basket, they get one point. Cargo that is scored into a higher basket earns two points.



If MoCoRoBo can get their robot to climb, they can earn points for their larger team based on how high it can go. The first rung is worth four points, the second is worth six, the third earns 10 points and the highest brings in 15 points. The alliance with the most points wins the match.

The team will have until March to get it completed, and the competition includes building restrictions on the machine’s dimensions.

Nichols and the team were just two days away from leaving for the 2020 competition in Denver when COVID-19 lockdowns began and canceled the event. Last spring, the robotics team had the option to build and compete remotely by filming their robot completing the tasks. This year should proceed like a normal year, if conditions remain as planned.

Some of the seniors on the team this year were on the robotics team when it was first created during their freshman year, and now robotics programs are in every level of the school district.

FIRST Robotics Competition, which calls itself “the hardest fun you’ll ever have,” challenges high school robotics teams to build their machines under strict rules as well as limited time and resources. Teams of students are also encouraged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills and compete with schools from different parts of the country.

In January, the middle school robotics team placed second in the regional robotics competition for their division of the activity. CMS students also walked away with the prize for best robot design.

The Colorado Regional event of FIRST’s competition will take place March 23 through March 26 at the University of Denver’s Daniel L. Ritchie Center. Currently, there are 41 registered teams scheduled to compete, including Moffat County.

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