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Rumbling for rebounds with Bluestone Robotics

South Boston News
Chase City Mayor Eddie Bratton looks over the 2012 version of Skrappy. (Contributed photo) / February 29, 2012
After six weeks of tinkering and testing, Skrappy 1413, version 2012, made his public debut in front of faculty, friends and family of the Bluestone High School FIRST Robotics Team.

Skrappy 1413 is a 4-1/2 foot tall, 120-pound, 4-wheeled, basket-shooting robot designed and built by the 19 members of Skrappy’s Crew. He has a starring role in the FIRST Robotics Competition taking place in Raleigh, N.C. at Dorton Arena, April 5-7.

This is Bluestone’s ninth year competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition. The team’s goal is to outperform their previous best, a fourth place finish.

The competition, which FIRST calls “the varsity Sport for the Mind,” challenges students to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks. All of this must be accomplished by following strict rules, using limited resources, and with time limits.

This year Skrappy’s crew, under the leadership of Tyler Wilkerson and Daniel Pittard, had six weeks to conceive, design, and construct a robot that could successfully shoot bawsketballs through hoops. Skrappy will show off his basketball prowess and the team’s skills by competing in a game called “Rebound Rumble,” where teams try to score as many times as possible during a 2 minute, 15 second match. The match ends with the mechanical marvels attempting to balance on bridges located at the middle of the competition field.

Marketing of Skrappy is the province of Morgan Pruett. This is her third year participating on the FIRST Robotics Team. One of Pruett’s jobs has been to prepare and submit an essay as part of the competition. Her team must also promote their robot using various marketing strategies she has developed, such as handing out pins and other promotional materials.

On the night of Skrappy’s debut, Pruett served as emcee, trumpeting Skrappy’s statistics (height, weight, and skills).

Forrest Goodwin is responsible for the team web site. Through it, the public can track Skrappy’s progress. Anyone interested in learning about Skrappy or his Crew can go to

The mission of FIRST is “to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership,” according to the team statement.

That mission drew the interest of Verizon. The company contributed $12,000 this year to Bluestone’s FIRST Robotics Team. Steve Cronemeyer, Verizon’s Government Affairs Manager said, “Verizon is very interested in and supportive of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and was delighted to have the opportunity to help out.”

Betsy West, the co-coordinator, calls organizations like Verizon “angels.” Without them and the mentors who donate their time and talents to this competition, “we could not have a FIRST team.”

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