Robotics tournament today at Island School

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Traci Sullivan of the Hawaii Technology Academy FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team, right, looks on as Nate Sullivan, left, and Grady Paulson pilot the robot through its task of collecting and placing blocks Thursday at the Kauai Bots space at Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Nate Sullivan, center, and Grady Paulson, right, of the Hawaii Technology Academy team pilot their First Tech Challenge robot while the Kauai High School team works on their craft Thursday at the Kauai bots space at Kukui Grove Center.

PUHI — The First Tech Challenge robotics competition started Friday morning at the Wilcox Gymnasium on the Island School campus.

Charlene Steuri of the Kauai Bots said this is the first time the island has hosted the First Tech Challenge program, which involves students in grades seven through 12.

“We’ve got six teams on Kauai,” said Traci Sullivan of the Hawaii Technology Academy team. “We’ve got teams from Kauai High, Kapaa High, home school, HTA, St. Catherine and Kawaikini Charter School. The teams have been working in the Kauai Bots space and had a tournament last Saturday to see how their robots worked.”

Under the First Tech Challenge, students design, build, program and operate 18-by-18-inch robots.

“We have nine students on our HTA team,” Sullivan said. “In addition to the operators, we have a person designing, one who keeps the record books, and even a scout to help strategize because we don’t know who we’re going to be up against. The scout spots the competition and plans strategy accordingly.”

Heading into the tournament that will determine qualifications for the state finals on Oahu in early December, Sullivan said she felt pretty good about their team.

“Right now, we’re sitting at No. 2,” she said. “That’s pretty good. Some of the other teams are having problems with connectivity, another has a pretty good robot but the wheels keep falling off. We’ll see how everything works at the tournament.”

The practice scenario had teams working to gather as many blocks and place them within a two-minute period that ended with the robot being parked and balanced on a perch.

Today, the first Lego League District Championship tournament will be held starting at noon.

The First Lego League program is one of four STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning programs for elementary and middle school students. Teams from Hanalei to Waimea will be competing to see who advances to the state finals on Oahu.

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