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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.

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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