While some people muddle along in life using flip phones, many middle and elementary school students want as much technology as they can get.
About 40 students spent Saturday displaying competitive robots that are much more than toys during the fourth Robofest, sponsored by Lawrence Technological University, at A.I. Root Middle School in Medina.
The winning team, the RoboDocs, was from Highland Middle School and was coached by Robb Colbrunn, who works in the robotics lab at the Cleveland Clinic. The team consisted of seventh-graders Noah Colasanti and Gabe Colbrunn.
The top three teams qualified for the World Robofest 2017 Championship to be held June 2 and 3 in St. Pete Beach, Fla.
Coach Colbrunn said Gabe’s older siblings also dabbled in robotics at Highland High School.
The world competition previously had been held in Southfield, Mich., the home of Lawrence Technological. Colbrunn told his son that since the competition moved to Florida, it was going to be too far to drive.
“He kept begging and begging and twisting arms,” he said. “He was so persistent.”
Finally, Colbrunn succumbed. He said he found some cheap flights and will take his son.
The younger Colbrunn and teammate Noah said it took them more than 40 hours to build their robot, which could be used in the medical field. Through a computer program, they could perform surgery at a remote location.
“They had four minutes to talk about what their robot can do,” said organizer Shayna Samosky, the gifted coordinator for Medina Schools. “It’s like a show-and-tell of what your robot can do.”
Nine teams competed Saturday.
“We brainstormed ways how this could help the world,” Gabe Colbrunn said. “It’s long-distance surgery.”
Noah said he doesn’t think it’s actually being done in the medical field — yet.
Gabe said he’s worked with robotics since he was in third grade.
Samosky said Medina schools have made a huge push into robotics in the last four or five years. She had students in fifth through eighth grade in the competition.
There were five judges from MTD Products Inc. in Liverpool Township and one high school student.
“They all work in engineering at MTD,” Samosky said. “You want people in the know.”
Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.