Robotics starts with coach training

The FIRST LEGO League season is kicking off now that school is back in session.

FLL is a team engineering and science program for kids ages 9-14 that culminates in an international robotics tournament. The first competitions that local teams participate in are the Columbia Gorge FLL Qualifying Tournaments in December.

This year’s theme is “Nature’s Fury,” with research and robotics activities focused on solving problems related to natural disasters. Team registration is in progress and will close likely in mid-September — sign up as soon as possible!

Special scholarship opportunities will again be offered for teams registered through schools in Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Skamania and Klickitat counties, thanks to generous support from Google-The Dalles’ Data Center.

Parents who are looking to get their students signed up for a team are encouraged to first ask whether their school has a team. Coaches for new teams or teams receiving a scholarship are required to attend a free training in Hood River on Saturday, Sept 21, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the OSU Extension Office (2990 Experiment Station Drive). This class teaches about the FLL tournament and the robot used.

Planning for the Gorge’s FLL qualifying tournaments is also already in the works. Tentative dates and locations are Dec. 7-8 at The Dalles Middle School and Dec. 14-15 at Wy’east Middle School. Volunteers are needed; one-day or multi-day volunteer options are available in this fun way to give back to the community.

For more information about all of the above, visit GorgeRobotics.org or contact Jessica Metta at 541-296-2266.

Gorge robotics activities, the website and the FLL qualifying tournaments are supported regionally by the Gorge Technology Alliance, a nonprofit professional organization that seeks to support, connect and develop the technology community of the Gorge. Learn more at crgta.org.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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