FTC Robotics teams head to The Dalles for Tournament Saturday

‘Confidence will come’

Dalton Hutson, Kyle Bond, Alex Dahlstrom, Troy Hewitt and Angel Jones, are team “Bucket of Bolts,” aka “Bob.” The Robotics I team will compete in the First Tech Challenge (FTC) Tournament in The Dalles this Saturday. Not pictured: Team members Lizet Monzo and Ivan Castillo

Photo by Trisha Walker
Dalton Hutson, Kyle Bond, Alex Dahlstrom, Troy Hewitt and Angel Jones, are team “Bucket of Bolts,” aka “Bob.” The Robotics I team will compete in the First Tech Challenge (FTC) Tournament in The Dalles this Saturday. Not pictured: Team members Lizet Monzo and Ivan Castillo



Eight Robotics teams from Hood River Valley High School — along with two each from Hood River Middle School and Wy’east Middle School — are competing in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Tournament in The Dalles today, Jan. 31, at The Dalles Middle School. The Hood River County School District has the largest FTC Robotics team in the state, said HRVHS engineering and math teacher Jeff Blackman, who is taking teams from his Robotics I and Robotics II classes. The free event is open to the public and is the local qualifier for the international FTC robotics competitions for students in grades 7-12. Best public viewing is from 12-3 p.m. The Dalles Middle School is at 1100 E. 12th St.

HRVHS students have been constructing and fine-tuning their robotic entries since September, often putting in late nights after school. The team of Garrett Kelly, Cole Osborne, Terri Hewitt, Kiefer Kreps, and Maddy Graham, seniors, and Payton Rigert, a junior, were still working on constructing their robot in Robotics II Wednesday afternoon — a common occurrence with over 30 students in the class and limited equipment time. Were they confident in their design?

“Confidence will come once we’re all done,” Kelly quipped.

In Robotics I, Angel Jones, Kyle Bond, Alex Dolstrom and Lizet Monzo, all freshman, and Dalton Hutson, Troy Hewitt and Ivan Castillo, sophomores, had their robot in the ring and were testing its ability to play the game they would be judged in on Saturday: Teams compete on a 12-by-12 foot field, working to pick up plastic balls and place them into strategically placed cones around the game table; touching the cones results in an automatic deduction.

“It’s been five months of trial and error,” said Hewitt, noting that if something didn’t work, it was quickly discarded in favor of another idea to turn the robot into “whatever this is now.”

The students are learning real-world skills, such as problem solving, work as a team, and how to modify and change designs.

“Plus, the world is getting so mechanical, it’s good to know this,” said Hewitt.

“In the future, STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering and math) are going to be a top priority,” added Jones. “Even now, there are lots of things to do with electronics.”

Blackman is looking for FTC team sponsors, as entry fees for each event costs between $150 and $1,000. Right now, School Aid is the program’s only sponsor. Those interested in sponsoring a team of five to 10 students is asked to contact Blackman at 541-386-4500 or Jeff.blackman@hoodriver.k12.or.us.



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