By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Pinkerton Academy students are winning big with their custom-made robots.
Pinkerton’s Team 241A robotics team earned a trip to the world championship after making it into the finals at the New England regional VEX tournament earlier this month.
The team will head to California in April to give their robotic talents another shot at taking some top titles.
The team also won the “Create Award” for creative use and design of gearing/transmission systems.
Students say the robot challenges change every year. This year’s problem was “Toss Up Balls.”
Robots had to maneuver on the playing space, pick up plastic balls and move them around to earn points.
Other competitions included going up against other team robots in different challenges to earn points.
It’s a lesson in not only fun building with robotic parts and machines, but it’s putting classroom learning to the test.
“You take what you learn in science and math class,” team co-captain Christian Albertelli said. “All the things you are learning pays off.”
Last year, Pinkerton robotics students went to world competition as well. Traveling across the country with intricate robots can be a challenge.
“We disassemble the major components of the robots,” senior team captain Mike Locke said. “We then reassemble once we get there.”
The machines are padded well for their cross-country travel, Locke said.
Junior Tony Mastromarino said being part of the VEX team is putting a lot of knowledge into action.
“It allows me to put all my science and math work into something like this,” he said. “I’ve used a ton of trigonometry to get responses with the sensors on the robots.”
In a classroom in the school’s newest Career and Technical Education building, students were practicing with their winning robot models last week as they prepare for next month’s competition.
The classroom has a large practice field io give the robotics team a chance to hone their technical craft.
The new building opened last fall and students said they requested the practice space be included in the design.
Other team members are Sean Lahey and Alex Mielens. Pinkerton has a total of six VEX robotics teams.
The world competition next month will include 440 teams from 155 countries. New England has had world champions in three of the last five years.