This was DHS’s fourth VEX Robotic Competition, where participants competed in a tournament with a chance to qualify for the state/regional championship and the CREATE U.S. Open.

“It’s incredible,” said DHS Principal Ray Kellar about Saturday’s VEX Robotic Competition, which drew participants from 12 north state high schools. Students built their own robots and participated in a tournament to see how well they perform.

“This gives the students a well-rounded feel for what is going on in the world today,” said Kellar. “Who knows what little spark these competitions will plant for their futures? Who knows what they will do with it?”

This was DHS’s fourth VEX Robotic Competition, where participants competed in a tournament with a chance to qualify for the state/regional championship and the CREATE U.S. Open.

DHS teacher Kurt Champe, along with Brian Grigsby from Shasta High School in Redding coordinated the event and the Tower Takeover VEX Competition. Every competition is different, they explained, requiring the students’ robots to complete different skills.

There were four competition fields in the Dunsmuir gymnasium on Saturday. One field was for practice, one for the skills challenge and the other two were dedicated to the tournament.

In the Tower Takeover, robots, which are run by remote control and programmed, have to stack colored plastic cubes in the corner of the field. The robot also needs to put a cube in the tower. The color of the cube in the tower is the multiplier for points of the same color cubes stacked in the corner in this timed event.

In the tournament, there are two teams and four robots in the 12 foot by 12 foot field. The two teams compete against each other and cannot go into the other team’s space. The robots can put different color cubes in the towers or take a cube out to change the points.

While there are competitions at middle school and university levels, this competition is for high schoolers. The robots start on autonomous programing for 20 seconds, then by remote control for one minute 40 seconds. The referees are all high school volunteers along with the announcer, Zakk Powell, a junior at DHS who sounded professional as he counted down the last seconds of each competition.

All materials for building the robots has to be VEX approved. Even though the robots look similar, they are all built differently. Some have a “claw bot” versus a stacker, scoopers, pinchers or grabbers to pick up the cubes. All teams are required to keep an engineering notebook documenting their progress.

“I got the basic design off the internet. Then when we see what others have done, it helps for building a better robot,” said Arlo Eades from New Day Academy in Alturas. During the break he made adjustments to his robot.

David Swoape, also from New Day Academy, showed how he uses rubber bands for counter tension to raise and lower, pull apart and put back together the arms of the robot. He has been working on his robot since December. It is equipped with a computer system and a lithium ion battery.

“Robotic Competition is a vehicle to get kids excited about engineering, about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math),” said Champe. “It exposes them to things they might not get exposed to like coding, working together as a team, the whole engineering process. This started with a handful of teams and now there are about 150 to 200 people here today.”

“My teammate, Choua Khang started with LEGO robots and got hooked and then got me interested in it,” said Anderson Union High School student Trinity Carr. “After you build a robot, you understand how hard the work and effort is that goes in to things like a forklift. What I like about robots, it is accepts all cultures. It doesn’t matter where you are from.”

The tournament champions went to Shasta High School in Redding and the “Build It Code It” Foundation in Palo Cedro. Saturday’s Design Award and Judge’s Award both went to Dublin High School.