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Sumo robots help students hone design and computer skills

BOONE—Math, computer programming and creative design are all skills needed to succeed in sumo robot competitions.

View larger imageStudents tested their computer programming and design skills during a robotic sumo competition held at Appalachian State University. The competition was just one of many events held as part of the N.C. Science Festival designed to excite students about science, technology, engineering and math. (Photo by Eric Marland)
View larger imageWatauga High School senior Joey Tibbett met U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx during N.C. Science Festival activities at Appalachian State University. (Photo by Susan McCracken)

The event was one of many held at Appalachian State University recently as part of the N.C. Science Festival. Similar to Japanese sumo wrestling, two robots, known as sumo-bots, attempt to push each other out of a four-foot arena within a three-minute time limit with the help of sensors, programming and innovative design. Students created their sumo-bot using Lego components, motors, sensors, a microcontroller and batteries.

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx was one of the spectators at the competition. The chair of U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training said math and science education is critical to the strength of the U.S. economy and praised N.C. Science Festival activities and Appalachian for providing for programs that support STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math).