Local students qualify for state Lego League tourney

Camas Mechanickidz to compete on Jan. 14 and 15 in Hillsboro

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The Camas Mechanickidz were selected from 20 teams in a recent competition to participate in the state tournament next month in Hillsboro, Ore. They are coached by Jeff Hendricks and sponsored by Broker Knowledge Group of Camas.

A local group of students will be heading to the Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program FIRST LEGO League state tournament next month.

The local team was selected from 20 teams at a recent qualifying competition in Vancouver, which earned them a spot in the state tournament next month.

According to coach Jeff Hendricks, the Portland region is the largest in the country with 400 teams. Of those, 80 are selected to compete at the state competition.

Mechanickidz was the only competing team with two awards, which were first place in robotics performance and third runner-up in the overall competition.

Teams were judged in four key areas: Robotics performance, core values, team presentation and robot design.

In the Robot performance division, the team took the top three spots with scores of 140, 143 and 164, respectively. The next closest score was 131 and the average was close to 80.

“The team worked tirelessly since the end of summer, meeting several times per week,” Hendricks said, “A portion of the time was spent understanding the missions for the robot challenge, strategizing the robot development, hardware and software development of the robot, and finally fine tuning the one-of-a-kind creation.”

The goal was to have the robot complete as many successful ‘missions’ in the food factor challenge as possible. The coach and mentors were to help guide the team in each of the four areas of development and prepare for the competition.

The project consisted of a skit demonstrating a prototype to keep bacteria from forming on “take ‘n’ bake” pizzas to a judging panel at the competition.

“We did discover that once food is taken from the restaurant (it) can become at-risk,” Hendricks said. “If you leave it in a car too long, or in a sunny area, then bacteria can form. Our kids came up with the idea of a small refrigeration unit that could be rented from Papa Murphy’s when you know you will be out and about for longer than a safe amount of time. You just return it on your next visit and get the majority of your rental money back.”

Hendricks is pleased with the team’s overall performance.

“The team grew in areas that most kids will not experience until high school or college, performed very well at the competition and had a great experience,” he said.

Team members include Andrew Whitaker, Jordan Hendricks, Jordan Slotto, Maggie Wells, Tate Perry, Gabe Mukobi and Owen Wilks. Mentors included Steve Slotto, Ken Perry, Doug Wells and Rick Wilks.

The team was sponsored by Broker Knowledge Group of Camas.

“The feeling is a sense a of great accomplishment from the team,” Hendricks said. “The kids have spent many hours on strategy, tactics and execution to be selected for state. They do realize that there is room for improvement but they are anxiously up for the task.”