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BotCats Building Toward LR Contest

HOPE – The Hope High School BotCats robotics team is back at the drawing board for its latest FIRST Robotics competition set for March 5-7 in Little Rock.

Fresh from the FIRST Robotics kickoff in Searcy, the team now has the concept and design guidelines from which it will build a FIRST Robotics competition grade robot. Last year, the team was beset by technical issues which dashed Hope’s chances for advancement after the qualification rounds of competition in the FIRST Robotics Little Rock regional.

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Hope placed 28th in a field of 55 from that competition; but, placed fifth among 18 teams in the November BEST Robotics competition, narrowly missing advancement into the national BEST Robotics competition.

“The theme this year is a Star Wars theme called ‘Infinite Recharge,’” HHS Robotics Coach Kathy Knight said. “This year we will build a robot that can collect seven-inch foam balls and launch them at one of two heights.”

That is the basic component for every robot in the competition; but, Knight said there is a more demanding second component this year.

“Additionally, we will need to use a color sensor in order to spin a color wheel an exact number of times and/or to an exact color,” she said. “The final step is to drive to a parking area, for five points, or drive to the same area and lift our bot totally off the ground to hang from a bar, for 25 points, plus, an additional 15 points if we can balance with a team member.”

As with other robotics competitions, everything in the planning and design phase must be documented as well as providing evidence of construction phase originality.

“Now the fun begins with strategizing, designing and building our robot for our March competition,” Knight said.

While the U. S. Department of Defense awarded the BotCats a $2,500 grant which will pay half the cost of the $5,000 entry fee, the team needed financial help to raise the remainder of the fee. Donors including Blackmon Oil Company, Ben Brazzell, Pafford Emergency Medical Services, Kiwanis Club of Hope, First National Bank of Tom Bean, Rodney Orr Insurance, Hope Floral Inc., Rolling Right Auto Service, Razorback Tanz, and Lester Brokerage provided the remaining $2,500.

“We still need to cover the cost of our hotel rooms as well as two cases of water and shacks for three days for about a dozen kids,” Knight said. “Our hotel needs will be about $800 for the twelve students.”

Donation information may be obtained by contacting Knight at kathy.knight@hpsdistrict.org online.

Nine members of the Hope High School BotCats robotics team attended the FIRST Robotics competition kickoff session in Searcy in preparation for the March 5-7 FIRST Robotics state contest in Little Rock. Representing the team were Dale Coleman, Coltin Turner, Coach Kathy Knight, Yovana Martinez, Jacob Gunn, Rebeka Fulton, Samantha Bailey, and Jadora Rivera. Not pictured are Cole Ayers and team volunteer mentors Val Knight and Chad Ayers. – Hope Public Schools

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