Rookie robotics team wins FFL qualifier

Middle school Horizon 1 advances to state tournament

“Horizon 1” has established itself on the robotics landscape.

The Horizon Christian School middle school First Lego League robotics team won the FLL qualifying tournament at Hood River Valley High School on Saturday. The Oregon FLL championship will be Jan. 18-19 at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.

Also qualifying for state were V Cubed of Portland and The Dalles-Wahtonka, which won the first- and second-place Inspire Awards, for overall performance, including engineering notebook and judges’ interviews.

Meanwhile, at another qualifying tournament Saturday at OMSI, the Hood River Valley High School team Meta Superior also advanced to state.

A total of 24 teams, with 180 students, participated in an event the HRVHS Blackhawks team called “Robotics Block Party.” Teams competing at HRVHS hailed from Seattle, Bend, Hermiston, Portland, The Dalles and Hood River.

As organizers, Blackhawks did not compete Saturday, but will do so later in either Portland or Junction City.

“It was a huge success,” Jeff Blackman said of Saturday’s tournament. Blackman is the HRVHS engineering teacher and robotics program founder.

“Everybody had a good time and it all went smoothly. We had help from 50-plus volunteers from all different kinds of businesses,” he said.

Teams were comprised of seventh grade on up, and older teams often helped younger teams. It was the first qualifier for coach Trey Rigert and his Horizon 1 squad.

“The guys have learned about programming, problem solving, and teamwork, and have had a blast so far. It’s a young team but we’re building for the future at Horizon and looking forward to state,” Rigert said.

“The guys and I are super-grateful for the mentoring we received from Mr. Blackman and the HRV high school robotics teams and parents. As rookies we would not have had a chance without tons of help.”

Blackman said “What makes this year unique is we had 60 percent growth in Oregon for FCC teams; from 90 to 160. At our tournament we had a lot of rookie teams, and this is the first year they opened it to seventh and eighth grade. Even though a lot of them won, not all of them were completely prepared and I think we will see a huge improvement in the teams in the next few years because of the popular growth this year.

“A lot of teams learned a lot of valuable information this year at our qualifier. One of the hardest things for a team to do is pass inspection if it’s their first qualifier, and we had lots of teams that were not ready, but Blackhawks stepped up and really helped them.”

Senior Taylor Kramer helped one team reprogram its robot, which would not function at all, and the team was able to complete the competition.

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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 to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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