01/10/18 — Domo arigato, Wayne County 4-H

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Domo arigato, Wayne County 4-H

By From staff reports
Published in News on January 10, 2018 5:50 AM

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The 4-H Robotics drive team 3737, from left, Jake Volk, Stephen Finch and Chris Cerny compete with their robot, Wally, at THOR, or Thundering Herd of Robots, the FIRST North Carolina off season event.

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Chris Cerny, a member of the 4-H Robotics team from Wayne County, works on a robot for one of the group's competitions this past year.

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A team photo of the 4-H Robotics Team 3737, which has had its most successful year yet during 2017, winning two competitions and three awards.

The 4-H Robotics FIRST Robotics Competition Team 3737 has had its most successful season yet, winning two competitions and three awards.

Laura Alley, 4-H Robotics mentor, said 26 teens on the team responded to the 2017 season challenge, "FIRST Steamworks," by designing, prototyping, building and programming an elegant and efficient robot. It won both the industrial design award at a district competition and the innovative control award at the state championship.

Team 3737 also won its first-ever season event at the Pitt District Event in Greenville, Alley said, before competing at the quarter finals and finishing with a ranking of ninth out of 59 teams in the state.

"This ranking propelled the team to the FIRST Robotics Competition World Championship in Houston, Texas, in May, where they competed with 400 teams from around the world," she said. "After match play, the team played in the quarter finals and finished 15th out of 67 teams in their world division."

The team's robot also went on to earn other recognitions this past year, Alley said. Among those was the entrepreneurship award for business plan at a district event in Wake County.

"This year had the most impact for myself and for many other members of the team," said Stephen Finch, team captain and the team's driver. "I am so grateful to FIRST for the numerous opportunities it has given me and the many life skills that I have gained. Competing in Houston at the World Championship will be a memory that I'll never forget."

During the off season, from May through December, the students meet weekly to learn mechanical electrical and programming skills as well as strategy, business and marketing as well as team-building exercises, Alley said.

Anne Finch, leader of the team, said the students also have many opportunities to share the information gained through local robot demonstrations at science fairs, the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair and teaching at 4-H summer camps.

"Workshops offered by the team during the last four years have enabled over 100 Boy Scouts to earn their Robotics Merit Badge," she said. "The team has also helped spread FIRST in Wayne County by starting other FIRST programs. They have started several FIRST Lego League teams and during the last three years they have coordinated and started over 80 FIRST Lego League Jr. Teams at area schools including Tommy's Road Elementary, Meadow Lane Elementary and Brogden Primary.

"The most rewarding part of being a leader of this club is seeing the student's get excited about learning. The variety of skills they acquire at their age are outstanding. Every year, I see young people conquering challenges and helping the team grow."

The Roto Raptors are now involved in preparing for another competition coming up in March. In the coming weeks, they will strategize, design, build, wire, program and test their new 2018 robot. The experience of being on the team also enables students to be eligible for $50 million in scholarships available to FIRST participants each year, the organizers said.

To watch a video of the robot in action during the finals tie-breaker match the Roto Raptors won, the link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sWmgT75PVs.