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Local robotics team featured on TV
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Photo courtesy of MARYLEE OWENS
From left are Lighthouse Robotics Team members John Owens, Elias Watson, Tyler MacMillan, Alex Laccabue, Jakob Mogenson and Sofia Angelini.
PALM HARBOR – A local home school robotics team from Palm Harbor will be featured in a PBS special on the Robofest 2013 World Championship on local PBS affiliate WEDU-Channel 3.

The program can be seen Thursday, Oct. 24, 9 p.m.; and Saturday, Oct. 26, 6 p.m.

The Tarpon Springs/Palm Harbor Lighthouse Robotics Team was one of the featured teams at the World Championship in May. The team, consisting of students from Lighthouse Christian Homeschool Academy, was winners of the People’s Choice Award trophy for best exhibition.

Its exhibition research project was called “Robotics Renaissance: Past, Present, and Future of Bio Based Robotics,” which traced the history of bio-based robotics from Leonardo da Vinci to present. It also gave future usage of bio-based robotics.

The team’s robotic demo and show was called “Renaissance Robots – How to Train a Robotic Dragon” and featured four bio-based autonomous robots. Two robots were dragons – one flying dragon on a tether and one crawling and leaping dragon using quadra pedal locomotion.

The crawling/leaping dragon ultimately used a compass sensor combined with light sensor input to determine direction while a princess robot used a color sensor and two humanoid based bipedal walking robots – one a princess and one a knight. The students built and programmed the robots themselves as well as devising the theme.

The team consisted of six homeschool kids ranging in age from 10 to 14. They were Sofia Angelini, Alex Laccabue, Tyler MacMillan, Jakob Mogenson, John Owens and Elias Watson.

The team had won multiple awards in the local Nielsen Media-hosted Robofest competition including first place for Junior Exhibition, the sportsmanship award and a team spirit award for the entire event.

Following the local event, the team competed remotely via video in a regional selection competition, which resulted in an invitation to the 2013 World Championship in May.

After being selected as finalists, the team raised money for travel with ice cream sales, raffles for donated goods. Through the generous support of Tarpon Springs businesses, First United Methodist Church of Tarpon Springs and the Lighthouse Homeschool Christian Academy, it raised over $8,000 to pay for travel and for shipping of equipment to Michigan.

For more information, visit the team’s website at
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