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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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CougarBots score big in ROBOnanza

Published 11:39 am, Saturday, March 8, 2014
  • Sixth-grade New Canaan Country School student Sarah Gallagher programs her robot to "walk the plank" without falling off in a pirate-themed robotics competition. Teammates Jessica Cramer, Jack Ferm and Bo Zeigler lend support. Photo: Contributed Photo, Contributed / New Canaan News Contributed
    Sixth-grade New Canaan Country School student Sarah Gallagher programs her robot to "walk the plank" without falling off in a pirate-themed robotics competition. Teammates Jessica Cramer, Jack Ferm and Bo Zeigler lend support. Photo: Contributed Photo, Contributed

 

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The New Canaan Country School robotics team, the CougarBots, earned several top spots at ROBOnanza, a multi-event competition conducted annually for middle school students in lower Connecticut.

The team took two first-place wins, one second place and one third place in individual competitions. One pair of students, Jack Ferm and Bo Zeigler, won second place for total number of points in the overall competition.

ROBOnanza requires students to construct and operate robots using only Lego parts and up to four motors. Robots and their programmers compete in a series of challenges, against the clock and each other.

This year's event drew more than 60 students and featured pirate-themed challenges of increasingly complex skill levels.

NCCS student Casey McCall took first place in the "Pirate's Bounty" event, successfully engineering his robot to remove 599 of 600 gold doubloons from a taped-off area in 30 seconds. Casey also took third place in an event called "Walking the Plank," in which he programmed his robot to walk to the end of a narrow piece of plywood and stop without falling off.

Pairs Chris Calderwood and Jack Johnson, and Bo Zeigler and Jack Ferm completed the "Buried Treasure" event, which required them to navigate their robots autonomously through an obstacle course. Only three teams in the entire competition were able to successfully score in this challenge, and these two NCCS duos did so for first and second place.

Faculty members Bruce Lemoine and Fraser Randolph said they were proud of all 14 of their student CougarBots.

"It's a great opportunity to showcase their skills and express their creativity in a variety of unique ways," Randolph said.