Bazinga Bots headed to regionals

THE BAZINGA BOTS robotics team is elated to be headed to the regional championship level later this month. Pictured, from left, are: Rebecca Stiles, Robert Westhafter, Preston Klindt, Quinn Farquharson and Killian Strassheim. Contributed photo

The Bazinga Bots of The Dalles High School are one of 72 robotics teams from 12 states headed to the Western Regional Tournament March 27-29 in Oakland, Calif.

If successful, they earn a place in the World Tournament.

“This is the first team from The Dalles to make it to this level and they are going to need approximately $8,000 travel expenses and lodging,” said Lisa Farquharson, mother of Quinn, one of five Bots team members.

Also participating in the competition are: Killian Strassheim, Rebecca Stiles, Robert Westhafer and Preston Klindt. The coaches are Bev Froemming and Jeff Stiles.

“Robotics has the longest season of any competing team at The Dalles High School,” said Froemming, an educator at the high school.

“The skills that the members learn are teamwork, speaking and fast adjustments to new situations — skills wanted in today’s jobs. I believe in this program and what it does for kids. I couldn’t be prouder of what our teams have accomplished.”

Farquharson said the Bots had one of the smallest teams at the state competition but that fact didn’t bother them.

“Their hard work and positive attitude just made me so proud – they represented The Dalles so well,” she said.

The Bots, made up of sophomores and juniors, emerged with second place from last weekend’s state contest at Benson Polytechnic High School in Portland that involved 45 teams competing in the game Cascade Effect.

Each team was comprised of up to 15 students in grades seven through 12 who started the season last fall by designing and programing a unique robot using a kit called Tetrix.

The robots had to compete on a 12-foot by 12-foot playing field and, during the first 30 seconds, operate completely without human intervention. For the next 120 seconds team members were allowed to assist the robots by sending commands using wireless connections. In this year’s Cascade Effect at state, teams formed and competed in alliances, with each alliance attempting to place balls in tubes of varies heights. The taller the tube, the more points awarded.

Earlier this year, 186 teams from around Oregon gathered at qualifying tournaments, and the top-performing teams from these events participated at the state level.

“Our kids came together and, in a matter of 14 minutes, they were able to develop a strategy of fully utilizing each other’s strengths. There was a level of respect, cooperation, collaboration and unity that many adults still haven’t figured out!” said Farquharson. As an example, she said the Bazinga Bots not only “high-fived” the judges, parents and teammates following the contest – but the team, Batteries in Black from Washington County, that took the top spot.

The other teams in the Winning Alliance were Gromit’s Grommet of Pleasant Hill High School and Team AFOOFA of Washington County 4-H.

The Bots formed an alliance with the Combustible Lemons of Hillsboro and Total Reboot, made up of students from two Beaverton high schools.

Another local team, the Renegade Robots, landed in 11th place at the state tournament. “These amazing kids showed awesome teamwork and gracious professionalism,” said Lori Stiles, mom of Rebecca. She said regionals are just a little over two weeks away, so there is not much time for Bots’ members to raise the money they need to participate.

“The kids will be going to local businesses and asking each one to contribute $100 and, if 30 participate, then we are closer to our goal but not a huge expense to a single business,” she said. “Here is your opportunity to let this team know how proud of them you are.”

Google, a company that has helped establish a robotics program in The Dalles High School has already paid the team’s registration fees and some of their lodging costs.

For more information, or to learn how to make a donation, call Froemming at the school at 541-506-3400, or email froemmingb@nwasco.k12.or.us.

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