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‘Great Robot Uprising’ Saturday at Mariner High

By Staff | Jan 13, 2012

“The Great Robot Uprising” will descend on Cape Coral this weekend when Mariner High School hosts the FIRST Tech Challenge: Bowled Over, an all-day state qualifying robotics tournament.

The competition is Saturday, Jan. 14, from 10 a.m. to 6:45 p.m., at Mariner High.

Fifteen schools from around the county and state are scheduled to attend the competition, which will see students design and construct autonomously programmed and remotely operated robots.

The program is only a year old at Mariner High School but has already gained prominence by playing host to the statewide competition.

The brain-child of engineering teacher Adam Nowicki, the program gives Mariner Math, Science and Technology Academy students the chance to expand their knowledge of engineering and robotics, while learning the value of teamwork.

The FIRST Tech challenge also allows for students to work hand-in-hand with technical professionals.

“We hope that southern Florida and Lee County recognize our school is helping to bring these opportunities to our students and to the community,” said Leah Tedlie, parent-booster club president for the program. “This is a great benefit to our kids.”

Tedlie praised the work of Nowicki, saying he took a “ragtag” group of kids and in just a year cultivated the program into one that is quickly gaining momentum as one of the only full fledged robotics programs in the region.

“This is something he wanted to do his whole life,” she said of Nowicki, adding, “The dedication of these kids is incredible. They’re there everyday after school.”

The competition will open to the public with a special ceremony featuring Mayor John Sullivan at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Students can design their robots any way they choose but the goal of the competition is the same for everyone.

Robot teams must work together and compete against one another to pick-up racquet balls, push bowling balls and stack crates.

The competition, along with the learning environment, creates a strong bond among the students, according to Tedlie.

“This is total team building. They’ve become like a family, treating each other like brothers and sisters,” she said. “They’re competing as a team and having fun while doing so. It’s a wonderful thing.”

The Marinerds, Mariner’s tech team, is looking for sponsorship for upcoming robotics competitions, Tedlie said.

The students are hoping someone in the community will step up and support their efforts. She said entering into upcoming competitions alone can cost as much as $5,000.

For more information, visit Marinerds.org.