COLUMBUS – Lakeview High School’s robotics team will be among five teams in Nebraska to compete in China this coming July.

“This is the first year that it is being done,” said Joe Haschke, chemistry and physics teacher at Lakeview High School. Haschke is also heading the school’s robotics team.

The team consists of four junior students: Kyle Mohrmann, Mason Stahl, Jackson Loske and Alex Ruelas.

The team was selected to compete in China based on the accumulative scores from prior competitions and tournaments. Although the size of a team varies from one to an entire class, only three members are able to compete in the arena at a time.

The students’ interests in robotics started when they joined a robotics club their freshman year. That's when they built their first robot.

“We all had a blast doing it even though our robot wasn’t the best that year,” Mohrmann said.

The group further enhanced their skills by taking a robotics class the next year.

They began with a robot that only utilized parts from VEX Robotics, but decided to expand out this year. This is the first year the team will be competing in an open division where robots are made with parts aside from VEX.

Before incorporating the different parts, the team had numerous complications with their robot.

“The chains were always breaking and it just wasn’t lifting smoothly,” Mohrmann said.

During the competition, the robot needs to be able to lift cones and place them in the team’s assigned goal to receive points. Each round is only two minutes long so there’s no room for error, he said.

Since switching to the open division, the team used a motor system found in a car seat to move the robot.

“They’re faster and more powerful,” Mohrmann said. “And we simplified our lift so that it only moves three inches which is all it needs to score in an arena.”

The team’s robot underwent numerous stages of tweaks and improvements.

“My favorite part about creating robots is coming up with creative ways to solve problems that we come up with,” Loske said.

The team recently started incorporating parts made with a 3-D printer.

Haschke helps the students with the physic concepts and refers them to helpful resources. The students are given the independence to problem solve themselves so they learned how to program the robot on their own.

“We had to learn the electrical side, programming and everything,” Stahl said. “And that was very fun.”

Haschke is impressed by how much the students' growth. 

The team is excited to see the different robots made by students in China.

“When we go to the meets here, you see a lot of the same robots,” Mohrmann said. “I am looking forward to seeing what the Chinese team has done in comparison to the Nebraska team.”

For some members of the team, this will be their first time stepping foot outside of the country.

“I’ve never even gotten out of this country and so I want to see everything they have,” Stahl said. “I want to see how they run their robotics tournaments and how well their robots are.”

The students will be in China for eight days. The registrations will take place during the first few days where the robots will be inspected ensuring that they were built according to regulations.

The trip cost per student is $3,000. The club will cover a portion of the cost and students will conduct fundraisers for the rest.  

“It will be a new experience so we are just going to take it as it comes and prepare for it like we do any other competitions,” Haschke said.

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