Tue, June 25

Verde Valley Robotic Team <br>brings home honors

Photo courtesy of Dick Gemoets

Members of the Verde Valley Robotics Team include, (back row, left to right) Zach Condor, Dan Donneley, Scott Scherberger, Alan Minner, Paul Scherberger Tabetha Schneider, (ront row, left to right) Bob Minner, Christine Schneider, Alex Wunsch and Kent Schneider.

One of the team sponsors, Dick Gemoets from Sedona Red Rock High School, says, "Needless to say, we are proud of our first ever award at a major robotics competition. And believe me, it was tough. The members of the team had to make multiple engineering modifications to our robot between heats to stay competitive. It was amazing to watch the kids see a problem, conceive of a solution, and re-engineer the change in less than an hour."

Major corporations and universities send representatives to these competitions, according to Gemoets, looking for the "cream of the crop". The students who participate have an opportunity to learn new skills, improve their understanding of the technology and be seen as candidates for "big time scholarships," says Gemoets.

The types of activities that the Verde Valley team and the robot were called upon to complete included tossing a basketball through a hoop with students using a joystick to direct the action. The robot also had to follow a line on the floor without any intervention in what is termed "autonomous mode."

For the Colorado competition, the robot that the team had built — "Mouse Trap I" — was shipped to Denver. According to Gemoets, "The good news is the team fared very well in Denver and the competition was even more competitive than the Arizona event. There were about 20 rookie teams and we still won the Highest Rookie Seed Award. Furthermore, we placed higher overall, even though there were 43 teams compared to 36 in Phoenix."

Gemoets continues, "Hats off to all the dedicated and hard working students from all four high schools. We are also grateful to our mentors and a give special thanks to our sponsors, especially NAU, which came through with money to pay for the van to take us all to Denver."

Other sponsors include Bent River Machinery of Clarkdale, Salt River Materials Group/Phoenix Cement, the Print Me and NASA.

The team wrote a grant and was awarded $6,000 by NASA to work on the robotic competition. They also accomplished fund raising to the tune of $4,000, primarily from the tax credit donations made by area individuals.

The robotics team is an extracurricular activity, located at sponsoring school, Sedona Red Rock High School, where students met nearly every day to work on the robot, affectionately referred to as a "bot."

The teams must build an entirely new "bot" every year and are seeking major sponsors for next year.

Gemoets notes that one "super mom" Christine Schneider has volunteered many hours of her time to mentor the students and supply much needed guidance, support. "Christine actually brought the idea to us," says Gemoets. "We could not have done this without her."

The team is already in the planning phase for next year according to Gemoets. The team is considering including highly motivated middle school students, provided that a teacher or parent from the school participates.

Anyone who is interested in engineering and would like to help out as a mentor or donate to the ongoing robotics program may contact Gemoets at 204-6762 or Christine Schneider at 567-6197 for more information.