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November 26, 2012

Robot team qualifies for state tourney

— Five students from Brookhill Elementary School and Athens Intermediate School will spend part of the Christmas break fine-tuning their presentation and engineering skills after the Athens Robot Team, known as ART, earned top three recognition in two categories among 27 teams vying for berths in the Alabama FIRST Lego League (FLL) state tournament.

The rookie robotics quintet competed in the FLL state qualifier hosted by Discovery Middle School Nov. 10 against teams with a maximum of 10 students ages 9-14. They advanced to the state championship at Grissom High School Jan. 12 by finishing in the top 13 overall, earning second place in robot performance and third in the research project division.

ART is comprised of third-grader Adam Biggs and fourth-graders Drew Grose, Jake Collins and Grant Metcalfe, all 9-year-old students at Brookhill, and 11-year-old Benjamin Carlota, a sixth-grader at Athens Intermediate.

The team is coached by two of the team members’ fathers, engineers Andy Grose and Jeff Biggs. They typically lead practices on Sunday afternoons at the Robotics Technology Park on the campus of Calhoun Community College.

“We have weekly meetings when the robot is programmed on the computer, and the kids learn to write programs for the robot,” Grose said. “We’ll be competing against all the best teams from around the state, and there will be at least 50 teams. At the state tournament, we’ll use the same robot and project, and we’ll present the same material we used at the state qualifier.”

Grose is employed by Amtec Corporation, which allows the team to use its Decatur office to prepare for FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) tournaments.

Amtec, which is owned by an Athens family, and Huntsville-based Pathfinder Chapter of Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International have donated funds to help purchase equipment and pay for registration fees.

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