Middleton High School's Robotic Team wins world championship

5:54 PM, May 1, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - Middleton High School's afterschool robotics club won the First Tech Challenge World Championship competition in Missouri, beating out 128 teams in the finals.

Photo Gallery: School's robotic team wins world championship

"We had some really tough competition," says 10th grader Jason Howard. The 16-year-old is captain of Middleton's robotic team, called Masquerade 4997.

What gave them the winning edge?

"Meet The Beast!" declares 10th grader Brian Neumann. "This is our robot, it weighs 42 pounds."

The robotic club spent two months building and tweaking The Beast.

"When we drive it forward, it will flip the crate in the right position and then we need to collect the ball," explains Brian.

The Beast can collect four crates with balls in under two minutes and lift them up. The more crates it picks up and the higher it raises them, the more points it earns.

Jason says, "We've been able to win every competition we've gone to with this robot. It's been an outstanding robot."

A shelf of trophies from this year marks Masquerade 4997's winning road to the First Tech Challenge World Championship in Missouri.

The Middleton students competed against some big teams with big sponsors, such as Lockheed Martin and NASA.

"Sponsors will get you the parts to make it, but when it comes down to it, it's how they are put together and how it works together."

The students held car washes and bake sales to raise the money they needed to compete. They even had to borrow parts for their robot.

"We had to take apart some of the other robots. We have two other teams and we had to take pieces from them," says Brian.

Students hope the World Championship title will attract some extra sponsors for next year.

The award was given to a school that's been graded a "D" by the state of Florida in five of the last six years.

"The magnet program here is phenomenal... very hands on," says Brian. He adds, "It's a great way to get you thinking, brainstorming designs. It's good preparation for the real world."

This winning team will be around for a while. The students are all 9th and 10th graders.

They plan to return to the First Tech Challenge World Championship next year, but this time with two robots.

Middleton offers four magnet programs, including engineering, computer game design, computer engineering and a biomedical magnet program.

Isabel Mascarenas

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