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4-H robotics team chosen as sectional alternate
4H Technomancerz
Members of the Grant County 4-H Robotics Team include (front, from left) Garrett Duff, Mary Starling, Christopher Starling, (back) Anthony Linneman, Cormac Duff, David Brandemuehl, Matthew Vesperman, and Dannea Linneman

On Nov. 8, the Grant County 4-H Robotics Team, known as the Technomancerz, participated in the first Lego League Wisconsin Qualifying Tournament in Madison.

The Technomancerz competed with 23 other teams from Wisconsin for a place in the Wisconsin sectional competitions in December. This year’s team, comprising of members from several 4-H clubs in Grant County, placed 10th overall, giving them an on-deck position for the sectional competition, should one of the eight qualifying teams be unable to go.

The members of the team are Matthew Vesperman, Anthony Linneman, Dannea Linneman, Cormac Duff, Garrett Duff, Christopher Starling, Mary Starling, and David Brandemuehl. They have received help from their coaches, Lynn Verger and Amy Brandemuehl, and their mentors, Andrew Verger and Roy Cornett.

On Aug. 26, the challenge for this year was released: World Class: Learning Unleashed. Each team then has two months to complete the challenge. The challenge is based on a real-world scientific topic, this year dealing with learning and education.  Each team is judged in three areas: Project, developing a solution to the problem they have identified; Robot Game, programming and autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field; and FLL Core ValuesThe Robot Games consist of 2½ minutes to complete as many of the missions as possible. Participants have three chances with time in between each game to tweak programming to get a higher score on the next attempt. This year there were 13 missions on the robot game table.

The Technomancerz choose to teach senior citizens to Skype as their real-world problem to solve. They researched how seniors learn, interviewed older people, professionals who work with seniors, and came up with a plan. They used music of the seniors’ time or soothing music to help them calm down so they were not anxious, followed with having them get comfortable with the technology they are using by playing solitaire, a game they have most likely played using real cards. The seniors were then walked through the process of installing Skype and the basics of using it, with a multiple-page handout that is easy to read.

The team put the Skype instruction as a skit to show the officials and performed it three times publicly, once for parents and family, once at the Juniors Leaders Halloween Party, and once for the community at Trinity Episcopal Church in Platteville.