LANCASTER – The veteran robotics team from Lancaster High School will host – for the first time – a mini-robotics competition with teams invited from the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles. The contest will involve smaller, cheaper robot kits rather than the more elaborate machines the team is accustomed to building and competing with. “We want to try to boost the popularity of this thing and see how it goes,” said Benji Coleman-Levy, a Lancaster High senior and chief financial officer for the school’s robotics team. At least five schools from around Southern California have indicated they will field teams at the event, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Lancaster High School. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson The robots will compete in the “Half-Pipe Hustle,” in which they pick up racquetballs and place them in basket goals, Coleman-Levy said. The robot will have to climb a 30-degree slope on each side of the field. The Lancaster robotics team was formed in 1999 to compete in the annual FIRST Robotics Competition. FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology and its aim is to encourage students to become involved in math, science and technology by letting them work with professionals on hands-on projects. “The reason I like it is it gives students the opportunity to apply what they are learning in school,” teacher and team adviser Kiley Craft said. “A favorite comment from kids is they sit in math class, learn stuff and it doesn’t compute. In robotics, they learn something in the classroom, then after school when they are building a robot, they are applying what they have learned. It makes it interesting and important.” With the help of professionals, the high school teams design, assemble and test a robot capable of performing a specified task. To compete is expensive. In 2006, it will cost $6,000 to register and participate in a regional event and get a kit of parts and associated materials and support. Each additional regional event will cost $4,000 more, and the championship event costs $5,000. However, the FIRST Vex Challenge on Saturday is a midlevel robotics competition that offers the traditional challenge of a FIRST competition but with a more affordable robotics kit costing $500. The ultimate goal of the Vex Challenge is to reach more young people with a lower-cost, more-accessible opportunity to discover the excitement and rewards of science, technology, and engineering, according to FIRST’s Web site. “Some people are calling it the junior varsity level. Lancaster High School is trying to promote robotics. NASA and our sponsors, Northrop and Lockheed, have said there is a lack of engineers currently, that many of the engineers that they have are reaching retirement age,” Craft said. “The goal of FIRST is to encourage math and science studies in students.” At the middle-school level, students build robots made from LEGO blocks. Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!