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Local Robots at Columbia

The future is now in Maplewood and South Orange schools.

Columbia High School hosted a district wide meeting this week for students of all ages to promote robotics in the area.

"Its one of those futuristic technologies that's happening now," high school science teacher, Allan Tumolillio said at Thursday night's meeting. 

The event, at 7 p.m., consisted of Jr. First Lego League, ages six to nine-years olds, First Lego League, ages nine to 14-years old, and the First Technology Challenege and Competition at the high school level. 

 showed off its competition robot, Jack the Gripper, as well as Cougar Woods and Stu. 

The team has only been in existence for a couple of years, but it has already earned state championship titles from both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. 

Vince Frascella, of First Tech Challenge, explained, every year a challenge is given to the students to build a robot to compete, which they work on all year. 

The challenge for this year was to build a robot that would lift a basket with a raquet ball as high as possible. 

In its first two years, the CHS team has accomplished: NJ State Champions (2011); 2nd place alliance, World Championships in St. Louis (2011), Pennsylvania State Champions (2012), semi-finalist in NJ and NY Metro NYC divisions (2012).

CHS has established teams in the middle and elementary schools, and the high school is considering adding a robotics class for the 2013-14 school year, according to Tumolillo, advisor to the team. The course would teach the basics of computer programming, to give students an idea of the types of programming they would be using if they pursued a career in the field.

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