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Students take regional, state robotics competitions

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By The Staff

 South Oldham Middle School students competed in the regional RCX competition in March at Henry County Middle School.

There were 29 teams competing from the Louisville region, including five teams from South Oldham Middle School. The winners at the regional level moved on to the state competition in Lexington in May. The RCX Challenge has three divisions – at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Each division competes for a traveling trophy. South Oldham dominated the middle school division with its students finishing in first and second place. Bryce Clayton finished in first place. Jacob Powell placed second place. The team of Brandon Trapp and Wesley Gresham took fourth place. Elijah Florence and Austin Gallagher also competed. RCX competitions challenge students to design and program robots to perform specific tasks. Students use Lego Mindstorm Robots, commonly called Taskbots, and NTX programming as the basis of their designs. The finished designs and programs, however, are as unique as the students themselves. Each year the challenge revolves around a new theme. This year, the theme was Ice Storm 2010. It required students to design and build robots that could raise downed telephone poles, retrieve and reset roofs, clear fallen trees and de-ice airplanes among other things.  The tasks are set out on a regulation mat and the town is built entirely of Legos. Competitors must use math, engineering and practical skills in their robot’s design. They are given two and a half minutes to accomplish as many tasks as possible and awarded points based upon the accuracy and difficulty of each task they complete. SOMS also took home the state championship title after the competition in May. The competition was one of many technology-based challenges during the student technology leadership program state conference. Students from all around the state participated in the conference and RCX championship.  The SOMS team brought home the middle school division RCX state championship for the second year in a row.   The South Oldham Middle School students are coached by Dave Czopek and assisted by Otis Florence. Coach Czopek is a retired Ford Motor Company engineer and has helped the SOMS teams bring home the State NTX Championships in 2009 and 2007. The robotics team is a component of the Student Technology Leadership Program sponsored by Joyce Otto.  – Submitted text and photos