Magic Valley students face off in robotics competition in Twin Falls

Published: Dec. 16, 2017 at 10:39 PM MST
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Twenty teams filled the South Hills Middle School gym on Saturday for a competition.

Any other day you’d expect the gym to be filled with bouncing balls and children with baggy t-shirts and athletic shorts chasing each other around. Not today though. Today was for robots.

“It’s hard, it’s tiring, but it’s also really fun,” said Zoey Sanstrom.

Sanstrom and her team, the water warriors, met every week for the last three months programming their robot. The goal is to get it to maneuver around an obstacle course and complete tasks.

“You try to win, but you’re also having fun,” said Amelia Kemp, another member of the water warriors, which she proudly points out, is the only all-girl team at the competition.

The competition has happened for the last five years. The Twin Falls School District and the University of Idaho Extension office put it on. Students from schools around the Magic Valley – from Gooding to Burley – compete.

“It’s exciting to see the kids work together to see what other teams do and how to solve their problems for the youth to actually learn a lot of life skills,” said Suzann Dolcheck, a youth development educator for the extension office.

Dolcheck also helped bring a couple of teams from 4-H groups. Students from nine to 15 compete and most of the teams are within a 20 minute drive of Twin Falls.

The teams were judged on robot performance, robot design, core values and team building. The top eight teams will compete in a regional championship at the College of Southern Idaho on Feb. 3.

The water warriors finished just outside of the top eight. At 10th in the competition they do not qualify for the regional championship, but that likely won’t stop them from continuing to work with robotics.

“I think I’ll probably do it next year,” Kemp said. “This has actually been a really fun experience for me, considering I don’t do sports at school and this is something I can do every Monday. Come meet with people and just do robots and have fun.”

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