For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics teams in Trumbull and Mahoning counties have been given their challenge and will spend the next six weeks constructing and programming robots to accomplish the 2014 task.
Teams from Champion, Girard and Warren Harding in Trumbull and Austintown and Canfield in Mahoning were informed of the challenge last weekend.
FIRST is designed to inspire children and teens to become involved in using science and technology to solve problems. Each year teams face a different challenge and document the activities and progress in the design and building process.
At Champion, team captain David Sypert, a senior who has taken part in robotics for the past four years, said the task, compared to what he has seen in other years, appears to be a little easier.
"But things are not always as they seem," Sypert said, noting that everyone has a different idea on how to go about accomplishing the task.
Sypert said the challenge appears to be like a football field and getting the exercise balls from one side to another and scoring ''field goal'' like points at different heights.
"This will involve a lot of cooperation. If we can get the ball over the bar in the middle and get the ball above you earn points,'' he said.
By week four or five, the team is on its way to completing the task, noting even if school is canceled the teams will work, Sypert said.
The Champion Lightning Bots includes about 40 team members in ninth to 12th grades and 10 to 15 alumni helpers. Sypert said there are 75 percent returning students and 25 percent new members this year.
CHS team will compete in Cleveland in March and Chicago in April.
Eric Hummel, a senior, said the challenge seems to involved the robot being kept smaller than the balls to be taken from one side of a field to another.
The team has held various fundraising, including, ''Are You Smarter Than a Robotics Student?'' which featured Miss Ohio Heather Wells of Howland.
Greg Christman, project coordinator / adviser at Harding High School, said the task take large-size balls which are thrown by the robot to earn points.
FIRST Robotics showed all the teams Jan. 4 a video on how teams can earn points and bonus points.
Christman said the Harding Delphi Elite Team 48 will compete in three competitions in March and April.
"A lot of our alumni and former team members have come back to help,'' Christman said.
A brainstorming period is being held for ideas on how to accomplish the task and how to build the robot.
"It's definitely a new game and different from what we have done this past two years. We are having to shoot balls. This will take a lot of cooperation,'' said Tyce Gall, a senior in his third year.
Gall said it all depends on how you build your robot, with him recommending some kind of cylinder be used.
Thomas Yuricek, an alumnus who has helped the team for 15 years, who served four years on the team, said the first week involves a lot of prototyping and designing and the second and third weeks building and updating the robot to accomplish the challenge.
Tyler Nimagadda, an alumni who served four years on the team and is in his second year of helping, said: ''When you first hear the challenge, it can often be a lot of first take in. You start to realize what you can and can't do.''