MUSCATINE, Iowa — Muscatine high schoolers are about to make a trip to Houston next week, and they will be bringing an after-school project with them.
"Building something this complex and crazy in just 10 weeks is just an amazing sight," senior Silas Hoffman said.
Hoffman and about two dozen other Muscatine High School students are embracing the challenge that comes with building a robot.
Hoffman is in his sixth year on the robotics team, called Fire Island Robotics. He started on the team when he was in seventh grade in 2017.
"That was the first time we went to worlds," Hoffman said.
Now, the team is on its way to a second world competition.
It started with some creativity, and one winning design.
"It is a really big challenge," said Chris Hoffman, Silas' father and the robotics team's head coach.
Chris credits the students' adaptability for this year's success.
"Imagine if you were a basketball player, football player, hockey player, baseball player, but every year the rules change completely and you have to start from square one," Chris said. "That’s the challenge these students have every year."
After building the robot and competing in regional competitions, most recently in Minneapolis over the weekend, the students are faced with yet another challenge.
"It is an expensive process," Chris said.
The registration fee for the world championship is $5,000, Chris said.
"It’s a 16-hour drive, going to take us at least four, five vehicles to pull it off, gas isn’t cheap right now," Chris said. "It’s somewhere in the neighborhood of $26,000 to $32,000."
But when the group arrives in just nine days, the real challenge begins.
"Everyone that we’re going to be competing against is gonna be a lot harder," Silas said.
If you would like to help support the students and adult leaders, you can contact Chris at ChrisChrisHoffman@gmail.com.
You can also make a donation to the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine by mentioning the program.
On Sunday, April 24, the team returned home from Houston at about 10 p.m. The team placed 25th of the 75 teams in their division. By participating in the world competition, the Fire Island Robotics team was in the top 150 teams of about 3,800 teams in the world.