They’ll come out swinging or spinning weapons when the judges give the “Go!” signal to do battle.
More than 40 of them — in all shapes and sizes — will flail away at each other in one-on-one matches inside a plexiglass arena at Meadville Area Senior High School.
But, unlike the gladiators of ancient Rome, these competitors — robots in today’s eighth annual RoboBOTS competition — won’t pay the ultimate price if they lose.
In RoboBOTS, high school and middle school students design and build 15-pound robots to do battle against one another.
The program was started in the 2006-’07 year as a way to get students interested in pursuing technical careers, said Brian Deane, the volunteer coordinator of the program for the northwestern Pennsylvania chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association. The local NTMA chapter sponsors the competition.
Student teams are formed at schools in the region and the robots are worked on throughout the academic year.
While it’s meant to be fun for the students, there’s a serious side, too, according to Deane.
“They’re learning without knowing they’re learning,” Deane said. “They’re using math and science skills. But they’re also learning other things like how to work like a team and how to meet a deadline.”
The some of the skills the students develop are ones they will use no matter what their profession becomes, according to Deane.
“They’re using critical thinking, learning to communicate with others, developing a plan, a budget for a project and others,” Deane said.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.
YOU CAN GO
The eighth annual RoboBOTS competition, sponsored by the northwestern Pennsylvania chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association, is today at Meadville Area Senior High School. Admission is free. Doors open at 8 a.m. with competition beginning at 9.