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High School Robotics Teams Face Off In San Diego

— Fifty-eight high school teams from across Southern California are at Valley View Casino Center on Sports Arena Boulevard this weekend. They’ve brought robots built over the last six weeks to face off in a regional competition.

Ryan Vanryck, 18, and Shaquille Garner, 18, seniors at Kearny High School, wo...
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Above: Ryan Vanryck, 18, and Shaquille Garner, 18, seniors at Kearny High School, work on their robot in the pit at Valley View Casino Center, Friday, Mar. 3, 2012.

The Kearny High School Hammerheads were putting the final touches on their robot during practice rounds Friday at San Diego’s sixth annual Regional FIRST Robotics Competition.

They’re just a handful of the more than 1,500 high school students who worked to build robots for this weekend’s contest. Their creations will face off for rounds of basketball shooting and balancing on teeter-totter platforms.

Shaquille Garner is a senior at Kearny High’s school for digital media and design. He’s been on the team since his freshman year because it’s fun – but he knows he and his teammates are getting a lot out of it.

“We wouldn’t necessarily learn the skills we learn in robotics, you know, I go to the digital school so I learn video, but I wouldn’t learn how to drill metal or build a robot from scratch,” he said.

Across the aisle in another pit, Francis Parker's W.A.R. Lords (W.A.R. stands for We Are Robot) are tuning up Yaroslav the Wise - the robot they built out of aluminum and carbon fiber.

Last year the team's robot, named after another historical war lord, made it to the final rounds of competition. But Sophomore Matthew Handmacher is hoping they get all the way to nationals this year.

But for him, competing is just part of the fun.

“You get to take the stuff you learn in your classes and actually use it for something," he said. "Like that physics class we had to take freshman year you get to use that math that so many people loathe. Also, I get to come here and I get to see I’m not the only science nerd around.”

Teams will compete Saturday and Sunday for spots at the national competition in St. Louis next month.

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Avatar for user 'Gary1'

Gary1 | March 3, 2012 at 10 p.m. ― 5 years ago

This is fantastic! I was told by a physics professor who was an engineer that the best engineers are the ones who have actualy built things. They learn how tools work, and they learn first-hand how to modify a design to overcome a problem that crops up. They can then use that knowlege in other designs later, and they learn to look for possible problems in a product. Not only do I support Science and Math programs, but also vocational-technical courses. This is what makes a more rounded and balanced education.

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