Barrington team headed to robot ‘Olympics’
Barrington High School Robotics Team members AJ Priola and Arturo Guerrero operate their championship robot, which will compete next at the elite world championship this April in St. Louis. | Photo courtesy Tom Bredemeier
Updated: March 22, 2013 6:35AM
Although the after-school robotics program at Barrington High School is only in its second year, students in Team 5200 are already on their way to the elite world championship this April in St. Louis.
Tom Bredemeier, computer science teacher at the high school who also coaches the robotics team, said there are about 2,500 robotics teams worldwide who compete. Less than 130 of those teams make it to the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) World Championship in St. Louis.
“I’m just so impressed with these kids,” said Bredemeier, who said he facilitates the team but does not participate in building the robot. “They’ve done a very good job of figuring out what works and what doesn’t.”
A.J. Priola, member of Barrington High School’s Team 5200, said the robot was built from a kit the team received at the beginning of the year. He explained that teams worldwide all get the same kit from which they build and program the robots.
“We’ve been working on this robot since September,” Priola said. “It’s a big dedication but we all love it.”
The robot, which the students built complete with wheels, extensions and regulation motors, is designed around a game in which rubber rings are hung on hooks. The robot then must remove the rings from the hooks. The higher the hooks, Priola explained, the more points you score when the robot removes them.
“The object of the game is to collect rings,” said Team 5200 member Jonathan Xu. “There’s actually a lot of strategy that goes into the game.”
Xu said all teams work with this game for the competition.
“It’s a worldwide game, so teams around the world build the same game,” he said.
Team 5200 member Daniela Markazi said the game changes every year.
“Last year, it was called Bowled Over,” she said. “You moved bowling balls up ramps.”
Xu said at competitions, the robots are judged on design, performance, functionality and aesthetics. Team spirit is also rewarded, as is the engineer’s notebook, a detailed written account of each step of the design and construction process.
Xu said the team has a computer program in which they can build the robot before actual construction.
“We try to get the concept first before we build the robot,” he said. “This program will tell us if there’s a problem with the way things are put together.”
Although the students are provided with a kit, they were able to use items not included in the kit, like drawer slides for additional movement.
“There are new strategies we develop, so things change,” said Arturo Guerrero, a Team 5200 member who was mainly in charge of programming the robot.
Bredemeier said it is an honor to coach a team that has made such impressive strides. He said everyone is excited about the world championship on the weekend of April 24-27, which is expected to draw about 30,000 spectators.
“It’s like going to the Olympics,” he said. “You’re just honored to be there.”