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Bots battle it out at Kukui Grove

October 30, 2017 GMT

LIHUE — The workspace provided by the Kauai Robotics Alliance at the Kukui Grove Center was bristling with activity Saturday as teams worked on robots for a trial tournament.

Outside, volunteers passed out treats to the horde of passing trick-or-treaters during the Halloween Festival. Some of the curious peered in the doorway while others braved stepping in for a closer look.

“This is kind of an orientation tournament,” said Charlene Steuri of the Kauai Robotics Alliance. “We have two tournaments coming up — Nov. 4 at the Kukui Grove Exhibition area, and Nov. 10 at the Wilcox Gymnasium at the Island School campus. This tournament give teams an opportunity to learn the rules, test their robots and get ready for the tournaments.”

The room was filled with activity from the six Kauai teams who are part of the Kauai FIRST Tech Challenge.

“FIRST Tech Challenge involves students in grades 7 through 12,” Steuri said. “It is the level before the Kauaibots which are for high school students. It’s also the next step above the Lego League which will have its qualifying tournament Nov. 11 at Island School.”

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Kauai’s six teams include teams from Kauai High School, Kapaa High School, Hawaii Technology Academy, the Kawaikini Public Charter School, St. Catherine’s School, and a homeschool group, PueoBots.

“We would love to have Waimea High School as part of this group, too,” Steuri said. “However, we have the school’s principal and vice principal coming to the tournaments to see if they can motivate some instructors to lead a Menehune group. These kids have been working since September, and these two tournaments will allow them an opportunity to compete and qualify for the state finals which will take place on Oahu in December.”

Steuri, whose family has been heavily involved with robotics through the Kauaibots program based out of Island School, said the FIRST Tech Challenge only received its “mission” in October and started to work on their robots. Their first tests come Saturday when the tournament unfolds at the Kukui Grove Exhibition Area.

“We at the Kauai Robotics Alliance have always wanted some off-island teams to come visit and compete with our Kauai ohana,” Steuri said. “We have two Neighbor Island teams committed to come and join our Nov. 10 tournament (this is a three-day weekend due to the Veterans Day holiday). Exciting happenings are taking place in the robotics world.”