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W.H.A.T.'s up? A Wauwatosa Lego robot team's efforts for the elderly

Dec. 12, 2012

Wauwatosa students teamed up with Project Lead the Way Lego League to score multiple awards at a regional robot competition in Waukesha, with two teams making their way to the state competition.

Both placing teams hail from Whitman Middle School. Their achievement marks the first year that any Wauwatosa team has placed in state.

Team W.H.A.T. - an acronym for We Help Arthritis Technology - and Team Flying Pigs competed in the state meet, held in Mukwonago on Saturday, with W.H.A.T. earning a second-place trophy with their "Senior Solutions," the theme for this year's competition.

In keeping the theme and independent of the robot competition, the program also involved each Lego robot team coming up with a way to better the lives of the elderly.

Team W.H.A.T. - comprised of members: Derrick Bittner, Chris Bravata, Andrew Harter, Max Ho, Cal Romens, Rick Sear, Benjamin Vargas and Cory Vines - teamed up an MIT biochemistry engineer to solve arthritis problems by using nano-particles previously used in cancer treatment.

As part of the competition itself, each team, paired with parent coaches and mentors, designed a robot, complete with cameras, sensors and a motor, to navigate a series of obstacles. Teams were graded on the amount of obstacles completed, the timeliness of completion and the accuracy of the tasks performed. Tasks can range from having the robot move an object based on its color to a certain field on a field to crossing a bridge.

This year's competition, which has teams compete on an international scale, saw over 200,000 participants from 55 countries.

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