, Port Arthur, Texas

Port Neches

February 16, 2007

PNMS Robotics team goes haywire in competitions

PORT NECHES — Middle school students in Port Neches got a taste of the life of a NASA scientist recently as the school’s Robotics team captured several medals at Regional and State competitions.

Using basically the same program as NASA does with the Mars Land Rover, the sixth through eighth graders worked for months building “bots” that helped them come home with prizes and a little more pride.

In their fifth year of Robotics at PNMS, campus sponsors Marlene Portier and Lea Ann Parks explained that the theme of the competition this year was disaster relief and the teams purpose was to save “survivors” and clean up “debris” also known as Spam and Dr. Pepper cans.

At the Regional meet, which was held in January at Sour Lake Elementary, team members Jonathan Gay, Kevin Angus, Hillary Baker and Taylor Thompson walked away with the first place gold medals as well as a $360 NXT Robotics kit, a top of the line kit used for creating the best type of bot.

“It’s kind of an underdog story,” Angus said, explaining that the Wednesday before the Saturday competition, the team’s robot was destroyed.

The bot had to be rebuilt in the few days before leaving for competition, a task Gay said helped the team walk away with the top prize.

“This one is better than the first one,” Gay commented.

Christopher Collins, Kaitlyn Authment, Kayla Williams and Brian Motte, also known as the “Monster Bots” earned the second place prize at the regional competition and then at the State meet in February in Austin, received the fourth place prize.

“Fourth place was okay, but we could’ve done better,” Collins, an eighth grader commented. “We were hoping for second place at least.”

Taking five months to build the bot and an additional four to build the program using the Lego Mindstorm computer program, the Monster Bots’ creation had seven subroutines programmed in and touch sensors to tell between the soda and Spam cans.

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