Robotics team making a splash

Published 10:14 am Saturday, June 18, 2011

Members of the Franklin High School robotics team and mentors pose with a robot created for competition this year at the VCU FIRST regional competition in Richmond. Mentor Charles Vaughan, left, poses with FHS sophomore Grant Scarboro, sophomore Clinton Smith, coach Liz Burgess, mentor Don Shanks, mentor Hank Mummert, junior Jennifer Mummert and sophomore Darryl West. -- SUBMITTED

FRANKLIN—It’s up to something as low-tech as cardboard to help the robotics team at Franklin High School build for next season.

The For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST Robotics Team, is asking businesses, organizations and individuals to help it raise money for the upcoming build season by participating in the inaugural Cardboard Robo-Regatta.

The cardboard-boat race will be held on Saturday, July 2, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Barrett’s Landing.

The robotics team has been in existence since 2005 and has entered five different robots in national competitions during that time. The team placed 11th out of 64 teams in its most recent competition – the FIRST Robotics Virginia Regional Competition in Richmond.

The team had six weeks to create a robot that was designed to place tubes on racks at different levels and to shoot a mini-robot up a tube, said team member Clinton Smith, 16.

Smith, who wants to pursue a career in engineering, enjoys the competition because “you get to learn a lot of things like engineering and electrical stuff.”

Team member Grant Scarboro, 16, who also wants to become an engineer, said FIRST Robotics gives him a chance to learn in a more interactive way than other classes at FHS.

“You get to learn things you can’t learn in school,” Scarboro said. “In school, it’s not applied learning.”

Team member Darryl West, another prospective engineer, said the team gives him something to do after school.

“It keeps you out of trouble,” West said.

Despite receiving some grants and sponsorships, FIRST Robotics is looking for regatta participants to help defray the costs of an expensive build season. They are asking for businesses, organizations, school groups and individuals to form teams to build boats made of cardboard that can be raced on a course on the Blackwater River.

Those interested in participating in the event or becoming a sponsor can contact team sponsor Liz Burgess at 641-8341.

Team registration forms and rules are available at Parker Darden Heating and Air at 201 S. Main St. The cost is $20 per team member, and teams can consist of two to six people.

A Thursday, June 23, deadline has been set for registration.