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Seaford robotics club gears up for annual competition

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Seaford High School’s robotics club is gearing up for its annual competition, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event will be held virtually this year.

Every year, the team participates in the FIRST robotics competition at Hofstra University, facing off against dozen of other high schools from the region. It has been modified this year so each team will submit a video of its robot performing the assigned task. Seaford students are currently building a robot that can pick up and launch a ball through a hole to earn as many points as possible in a specified time frame.

For the competition, students must create a 15 by 30-foot playing field for the robot. At one end, there will be a wall with a hexagon-shaped opening. The robot must be able to throw the ball through that hole from several different points on the playing field. That requires building a robot that is capable of launching the ball from different angles.

Sophomore Kailly Nocera said the team is using the robot they built last year and modifying it based upon this year’s competition requirements. It will include an intake mechanism to pick up a ball, which then travels down a ramp to the shooter.

For the first time, the robotics club is using the school’s computer numerical control machine to make cuts in the aluminum, which team members say will make it more precise than if cutting by hand. Robotics club adviser Nick Isgro said that the time saved by using the CNC is time added for programming and testing the robot.

“I really like the learning experience,” Nocera said. “If you fail, you do it again until you get it right. It’s great being here after school, doing what we love and learning how to make our robot better.”

Isgro said they will likely use the cafeteria for the playing field, because of the open space and high ceilings. The video must be submitted for the competition by March 4.

Provided by the Seaford School District. Compiled by Brian Stieglitz.