Upper Arlington News

Connect a Million Minds Invitational

Teams will power up robots for contest

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The season is over, but a Saturday, June 22 competition will give high school robotics teams one more chance to power up their robots.

The Connect a Million Minds Robotics Invitational will include 30 high school FIRST Robotics Competition teams from around central Ohio. Play will start at 10 a.m. June 22 at Dublin Coffman High School, 6780 Coffman Road.

The Connect a Million Minds Robotics Invitational is an annual event for the Central Ohio Robotics Initiative, or CORI, and growing the activity is its goal.

The competition will give teams a chance to use the robot they built over the winter.

"This is an off-season event, meaning that usually, they have regionals and different events after kids create a robot. World championships are the finale," said Kathy Gerber, a member of the CORI board. "It's off-season to allow teams to do a little bit more with their robots."

The event also works to give teams more experience because traveling to contests isn't cheap.

"It's expensive for kids to travel to actual competitions," Gerber said. "They get so much more experience. ... This is very inexpensive to participate in."

Along with offering teams a chance to compete, the Connect a Million Minds Invitational works to connect students with teams. Both the competition and "pits" where teams work will be open to the public to give them a look at what goes on.

"It's also a good way to engage people who aren't sure they want to be on a team next year," Gerber said. "It gets them excited and committed going into the next season that starts January 2014."

CORI has seen more central Ohio students get involved with robotics teams from elementary through high school, Gerber said.

"There's certainly been more interest in the area," she said.

Establishing a team isn't easy, but other teams can help, she said. Gerber said CORI tries to set up mentors for new teams.

A man vs. machine contest planned for 6 p.m. Friday, June 21 at Dublin Coffman will work to create ties between teams. This year's challenge was to build a robot that plays Frisbee, so teams can pit their skills against a robot's.

"We really want students to get to know each other in central Ohio better and help mentor each other and connect," Gerber said. "The Friday event is about them having fun and getting to know each other. Because the competition deals with Frisbees, we thought it would be fun to see how far you can throw the Frisbee versus how far a robot can."

After all, one of the things teams are judged on in competitions is community service and teamwork, she said.

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