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BY GAIL M. WILLIAMS
Muleshoe Journal Correspondent

In its first year of competition on Saturday, Muleshoe High School Robotics gained a place on the Alliance Championship team. Along with Lubbock Cooper and New Home, Muleshoe will compete at the West Texas Regional Championship from 1 p.m. till about 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16.
Preparation for competition began in September when the team, consisting of two juniors, a sophomore and two freshmen, received “a bucket of spare parts.”
Coach Cody Johnson explained that the parts actually came in a 1 ft. by 2 ft. orange tote bag containing “parts, gears, motors and screws for a bunch of functions.”
Since then Keenan Puckett, Kynton Haseloff, Lisvett Rodriguez, Valerie Toscano and Izack Flores have been working to perfect a robot that will perform tasks such as picking up a ball and putting it into a basket.
“Thirty other teams from 15 schools, 1A to 5A, competed,” Johnson said. “People get very into it, especially in the finals competition, yelling, cheering, screaming. It surprised me how into it the fans and the different schools are.”
Competing in Robotics involves engineering and problem-solving skills, such as figuring out what it will take for the robot to extend and put balls in bins taller than the robot is. Math calculations are used to figure out angles and how fast to turn a certain object to get it to go a certain distance.
As the competition progresses, top teams pick other teams to be part of their Alliance. The top team consists of three teams and their robots who are then the overall championship team of the day and go on to the next level of competition.
Johnson said Muleshoe Middle schools have had Robotics for a couple of years, which prepared the high schoolers for competition.
“This is the first year I’ve coached,” he said.
Johnson pointed out that if you have a Roomba, you already have a robot.
“We have cars driving themselves — hopefully robots won’t take off without us,” he said. “It’s important. This is the direction companies are moving; they will need workers skilled in robotics. We’re preparing our students now for a market that’s emerging to exist.”
Johnson said his students are also involved in a variety of other high school activities and competitions.
“I really appreciate the time Muleshoe students take to represent our school,” Johnson said.

Rhea Gonzales

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