SHOUT OUT: The Pascack Pi-oneers Robotics Team has built a basketball-playing robot that its teenaged members hope will carry them to an international tournament next month. You can help cover their competition costs by eating at Davey’s Irish Pub and Restaurant in Montvale.
“Rebound Rumble” features three robots per team performing on a flat, 27-by-54-foot court.
All were built from identical kits, with thousands of teams vying for what will only be 140 spots at the World Championships in St. Louis, April 26-28.
The robots will try to shoot as many foam basketballs as possible through four hoops of varying heights set in a diamond arrangement. The higher the hoop, the bigger the score.
But get this: They also play defense.
It’s far from random: The robots track reflective vision targets on the backboard, calculate the distance of the shot, set the appropriate speed and then launch the balls at a 50-degree angle. The match ends with the robots attempting to balance on bridges in the middle of the court for bonus points.
This video shows how it works:
The FIRST (Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics competition this year features events throughout the U.S., as well as in Ontario and Tel Aviv, all geared toward creating a sports atmosphere that makes science, technology, engineering and math fun.
The Pascack Pi-oneers , made up of students from Pascack Hills and Pascack Valley high schools, began their training in engineering, electronics, programming, pneumatics, animation, and drive systems in separate seminars in the fall.
Then came a six-week “build season,” in which they updated their web site and created software, a business and marketing plan, a fundraising element – and, of course, the actual robot, dubbed The Iron Horse:
They also conferenced via Skype with three other robotics teams — at Mount Olive High School, Hillsborough High School and Lakeland Regional High School in Wanaque — sharing ideas and helping one another out. The groups will attend competitive events together, cutting some of the costs.
What’s more, “sharing tools during these events will mean that we do not have to worry about bringing everything,” the Pi-oneers note on their web site. “Working together will greatly benefit all involved and make us a better team overall.”
Print the flyer below, or show it on your phone, and Davey’s will give the Pioneers 15% of lunch and dinner receipts Monday and Tuesday ( March 12-13 ).
The FIRST events begin with the 40-team District Qualifying Competition at Rutgers University this coming weekend. That’s followed by another district event at Mount Olive High School March 31-April 1. The Iron Horse
Then comes the New York City Regional at the Javits Center March 16-18, followed by the Mid-Atlantic District Championship in Philadelphia April 12-14.
It’s about more than winning, though. The trick will be for each team to work with others quickly and efficiently under deadline. The teams also must display integrity and respect for one another.
Founded in 2005, the Pi-oneers are a civic-minded group, participating in various area fundraisers and charities. They collaborated with the American Legion in Hillsdale this school year, collecting goods for military personnel overseas, including snacks and toiletries, that were sent along with postcards. The team also adopted a platoon and sends weekly pen-pal letters.
The Pi-oneers also work closely with the non-profit Angels Amongst Us , dedicated to helping children with Down’s Syndrome and their families.
And they have mentored FIRST Lego League teams from River Vale, Woodcliff Lake, Montvale, and Hillsdale. The River Vale team, from Holdrum Middle School, was invited to the Lego League World Festival in St. Louis.
Other highlights this school year included a visit from a group of Italian exchange students from a science and technology high school in Treviso. “The language of engineering proved to be universal,” said the Pi-oneers, who taught their counterparts how to direct, control and play with their robot.
They themselves have a large and impressive roster of mentors, including head coach Kevin Killian, a Pascack Hills math teacher who was an engineer in satellite navigation and fiber optic communication for 19 years; Don Rotola, of Mercedes-Benz, the electrical sub-team mentor; and Lisa Ruggieri, the founder and co-president of the Pascack Pi-oneer Parents Association.
“Gracious Professionalism…Don’t Leave High School Without It!” is the Pi-oneers motto. Getting their competition expenses defrayed, right now, is the goal. Here’s the flier:
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