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Ossining Students Building Robot That Shoots Hoops

OSSINING, N.Y. – Students in Ossining High Schools' engineering club were busy  programming and constructing parts of a robot that is supposed to be able to pick up balls and shoot them into a hoop.

"It's a new experience for me. I actually get to learn how a robot is working," said Kutay Agardici, a senior who was working on how to get the robot to launch a ball at an after school meeting on Wednesday. "The thing I like the most is that since this is something new to us, we have to figure it out on our own. We still don't know exactly how this thing is going to launch a ball. There's no device to bring the ball up."

This is the first year that Engineering Club students are constructing a robot, said club advisor Doug Albrecht who teaches physics and engineering. The students are competing in the First Robotics Team competition along with about 2,500 other high school teams from around the country and internationally.

Every year, teams participating in the competition are given six weeks to design and build a robot with a certain function, Albrecht explained. This year, the robot must shoot a basketball through a hoop. Students have until Feb. 22 to complete the robot, and they will showcase their robot at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan on March 16, 17 and 18.

So far, students have partially built a frame for the robot, and they have fitted the robot with wheels. A group of student programmers are working on getting the robot's motors to communicate wirelessly with a computer.

"We have to get it to recognize these joy sticks and to spin these motors," said senior David Earle as he sat in front of a laptop computer and a large board fitted with electrical components and a motor. "I've been interested in engineering for a while. I'm going to be studying mechanical engineering in college."

Albrecht said the robot-building program is great because there are many project components that students can work on.

"There are kids working on the project who aren't even involved in any engineering classes," Albrecht said. "The beauty of the program is that it's open for everybody and it's a good program for drawing kids into the higher level math and science classes."

In order to raise funds to buy more robot parts, Engineering Club students are planning to hold a fundraiser at the Tuscan Grille at 518 North State Road in Briarcliff on Monday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Students will show off their robot in construction as well as some of their past projects, including electric cars that were built in previous years.

Food for the fundraiser is being donated by the Tuscan Grille, and 100 percent of proceeds will go towards the robotics team.

"We're hoping to raise about $1,000 to $1,200 and we have a list of parts that we're looking to get," Albrecht said.

Ossining High School is the only high school in Westchester that is competing in the First Robotics Team competition aside from Saunders Trade and Technical High School in Yonkers, Albrecht said.

"I've heard about the competition for the last couple of years," Albrecht said. "This year we were looking for a new challenge and we said, 'You know what, let's enter this competition.'"

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