Robot Basketball Takes Spotlight at Cleveland State

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- March Madness is alive at the Wolstein Center on the Cleveland State University campus this weekend, but it's not your typical March Madness basketball game. The players weigh 120 pounds, and each team has four baskets where they can score.

They are not your typical basketball names. "Let's hear it again for the Red Barons," exclaimed the announcer.

But then again, this isn't your typical basketball game.

"We shoot them out at about 3,000 RPMs into the baskets. We can hit all of our hoops," said David Sypert, of Champion High School.

This is a Robotics competition.

"Meet Goomba, our 2172 robot," said Andrew Stockeale of St. Edward High School.

High school students from across Ohio the U.S. and Canada used science, technology and engineering to design a robot in six weeks that plays basketball.

"One great thing about our robot is our antonymous; we are able to shoot at any time, especially in the beginning where we automatically program our robot to shoot multiple balls," said Stockeale.

The finished products stand about two-feet tall and weigh close to 120 pounds.  The teams were given a kit once the competition was announced. In that kit was motors, batteries and automation components. How the robot looked, and how it was put together, was left up to the students.

"First we started designing as a team, and we started gathering some of our parts, and after we started working on prototypes," Stockeale said.

From there, each team had to decide what the strength of their robot would be.

"The wheel on our robot feeds (the basketballs) in and one of the other wheels shoots out the balls," said Austin Sagin of Erie, Pennsylvania.  "They go a good 10 to 15 feet."

Rebound Rumble as its called is played on a miniature court, with eight hoops and six robots that compete to get as many basketballs into their hoops as possible in 2:15.

"Our goal was to make baskets," said Sypert.

And who says learning can't be fun?

"Building a robot is just not some geeky thing you do in third grade, it's this really fun activity I do. I can do it any day, every day; all year long, for the rest of my life," said one of the female students on the Corry Robotics team.

The Cleveland competition is the first of 45 regional competitions taking place this year.  The event continues on Saturday at the Wolstein Center. Admission is free and open to the public.