Battling bots: Adams-Cheshire team victorious at Robotics Challenge

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Photo Gallery | Berkshire Robotics Challenge 2016

LENOX — Colin Bain could have easily quit.

The 11-year-old Greylock Elementary School sixth-grader instead taught a lesson in perseverance to an audience of hundreds at the 17th annual Robotics Challenge at Lenox Memorial Middle & High School on Saturday.

All the other members of Bain's team, Another Brick in the Wall, failed to show for the competition, leaving the youth — a relative novice in robotics, with only a week-and-change on the team under his belt — holding the bag.

Team coach Keith Davis said he "left it up to Colin."

Bain spared no time picking up his controller and readying his machine, to the delight of the audience.

"I just had my mind set on it," Bain said.

Davis added, "Knowing Colin, I can't say I was surprised. I knew he would. He did great. I am so proud of this kid."

Also brimming with pride for Bain's heroics were his peers on the other North Adams Public Schools team, North Adams 4-H S.W.A.T.

The team of 10 netted themselves the competition's sportsmanship prize by rushing to the front row and cheering loudly in support of Bain on his one-man mission.

Thirty-three total teams comprising more than 250 students took part in Saturday's competition — a busy, loud, colorful affair. Songs by Queen boomed in between rounds, while dozens of students and parents wearing flashy team colors milled about the school's auditorium and cafeteria.

The specific challenge was called "Trash Trek," and saw students using the robots they'd designed and programmed to complete missions involving trash collection, sorting, reduction and reuse.

"The intent of most of [the missions] is to think about our impact on the environment," said Jon Friedman, a member of the event planning committee and head referee of the contest. "You can get these kids enthusiastic about anything. You teach them a little bit and they really want to go out there and change the world."

He added, "I think the older we get the more cynical we get. Kids this age, they have hearts of gold and are willing to do anything. Give them a little information about how they can make a difference and they want to do it.

The finals match up came down to Kontrolled Kaos II, an Adams-Cheshire Regional School District team, and Los Churros of St. Agnes Academy.

For the second year running, Kontrolled Kaos II handily vanquished their opponent to take home the competition's top honors.

"This was just a really, really well-programmed robot — it took sharp turns, missed obstacles, consistently achieved missions," Bernie Klem, a judge from Berkshire Life Insurance Co., said. "It was scary how consistent it was."

About the competition, Klem said, "I was just amazed by how competitive and how strong all the teams were. You should all be really proud of your accomplishments."

B. Stephen Boyd, CEO of Boyd Technologies in Lee and Chairman of Berkshire Innovation Center, wrote the introduction to the program on the event, stressing the need for students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math studies.

"Your participation is crucial to the future of Berkshire County," Boyd said. "As the entrepreneurial ecosystem grows here in the Berkshires, we will need more from our workforce. We must start thinking about these needs today."

Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214.


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