The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Michele Smith
The Times 

4-H Robotics team competing at FIRST Lego finals in Spokane


January 10, 2019

Courtesy Photo

The robot team Space Gatos were fearless building a new robot and writing missions on the fly when their first robot was not running as was planned, said Coach Jeanne Walter. The team is headed to FIRST Lego final competition in Spokane, in January. Team members are l to r: Addie Johnson, Vaugh Walter, Balian Walter, Bennie Bryan, Phinehas Kerr. Josh Reser is the astronaut.

DAYTON – In January, the Space Gatos, Columbia County's 4-H Robotics and FIRST Lego League Team, advance to the State Finals in Spokane, after winning the Community Connection Award at FIRST Lego Regionals in Pasco.

Their coach, Jeanne Walter, said this is the third year the robotics team has advanced to the final competition. They are one of only six teams out of a field of 28 to do so.

Teams compete in Robot Design, Project Presentation and Core Values, and Robot Mission Games.

This team has been busy with community service this year, as well as working to solve this year's theme, Into Orbit.

For that, the team tackled the design of a genetically modified space plant which would break down carbon dioxide at faster rates to produce more oxygen than plants normally do.

"They produced a container for the plants and used clustered, regular, interspaced, short palindromic repeats (CRISPR ) to cut and paste DNA from a money tree plant into a spider plant," Walter said.

Walter said NASA has been researching plants for their abilities to remove harmful chemicals from the environment, so part of the students' research involved determining the best-fit plants for space travel and how they can benefit astronauts on their deep-space voyages.

Walter said that as the team moves into high school next year they will need Java programmers, welders, and FIRST Tech Challenge Robot builders. They also need a sponsor to house the robot and the equipment, along with a work area where they can build and design.

"I hope, one day, a robotic team gets to go to the National Competition," Walter said.

Walter said team sponsors donating $750 or more will have advertising space on the team's t-shirts, during competitions and local events.

Donations are being accepted through Banner Bank. Volunteers can contact Jeanne Walter through the County Extension Office in Dayton.


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