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Bonners Ferry robotics team gearing up

November 30, 2012
Members of Bonners Ferry High School Team 2130, under the guidance of Coach Ed Katz, far right, are already hard at work gearing up for the 2013 First Robotics Competition.
Sarah Schuman photo

By Sally Balcaen

One only has to step into the robotics headquarters behind the middle school in Bonners Ferry to see that the team is already hard at work preparing for a new season. Even though details of this season's First Robotics Competition (FRC) won't be released until January, Bonners Ferry Robotics Team 2130 is already gearing up to ensure a well-prepared season.

"The Varsity Sport for the Mind," FRC combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology.

Under strict rules limiting resources and setting unforgiving time limits, teams of 25 students or more in grades nine through 12 are challenged to raise funds, design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to "real-world engineering" as a student can get. Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team, and Team 2130 is blessed to have some of the best.

Team 2130 is but one of more than 4,000 high school teams in the region to be competing for scholarships and the science, engineering and technology skills that inspire innovation and foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership. Globally, FRC involves more than 304,000 students in more than 29,000 teams, all competing for and sharing almost $16-million in college scholarships.

It's not a competition the Bonners Ferry team takes lightly.

The programming team is starting out by becoming familiar with coding the robot. The code ensures that when a button on the remote control is pushed, the robot moves correctly. They are learning to program in a new programming language called Java.

To get back on track and re-familiarize them with the components of engineering, the design/build team is re-designing a frame for the Robotics t-shirt shooter. The t-shirt shooter has been featured at numerous games and events, most recently the Homecoming Game.

Unfortunately, due to some issues with the robot’s frame, the team is redesigning a new robot and, once finished, will begin building. This is also a way to teach newcomers to the robotics team the programs and how to use the equipment.

Right now, the animation team is practicing and familiarizing themselves with the Autodesk program, with the assistance of Pat Rogers.

This is the first year that Team 2130 will be doing an animation video for the competition, and the students have a lot to learn. The animation is centered around safety in the work zones when building the robots.

Their deadline for that is December 13, right around the corner, thus keeping them busy.

The business team is working on a business plan for the season and emailing other school districts to arrange program presentations.

For the time being, the team is in the building stages of getting together, learning the ropes, and keeping their eyes on the approaching kick-off, in anticipation of another highly competitive season, and one to build on the successes Team Bonners Ferry has enjoyed in the past.

To find out more or learn how you can contribute, either as a donor or a mentor sharing your experience and skill, contact team coach Ed Katz by email at
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