I’m a Robotics Champion

Last fall, Sawyer Rinn competed against some of the world’s top kid robot builders.

Courtesy of Kristy Rinn

Sawyer competes at the WRO International Final in Germany.

A lot of kids would agree that robots are cool. Making them is even more awesome. I found that out last year, after my mom signed me up for a LEGO robotics class in my hometown of Geneva, Illinois. I got to build my first robot, which I named Johnny 5.

I love building LEGO sets—the more pieces, the better. But building a robot involves a lot more than just putting together blocks. I have to decide where I want the robot to go and how I want its arms to move. I learned to program Johnny 5 using instructions called code. In some ways, coding lets me act as the robot’s brain. 

Coding is my favorite part of robotics, but it’s also the most challenging. After writing code, I have to test it. If the robot doesn’t do exactly what I want it to, I have to change the code and test it again. I spent about 500 hours perfecting the code for Johnny 5! 

Robot Battles

Courtesy of Kristy Rinn 

Ten-year-old Sawyer Rinn holds his robot Johnny 5.

Last August, I got the chance to compete at the World Robot Olympiad (WRO) National Championship in Ontario, California. I had to program my robot to complete a series of challenges on a garden-themed LEGO course in under two minutes. I earned points for how well Johnny 5 cut grass, collected weeds, and rescued LEGO ladybugs. I finished in first place out of 21 teams in my age group.

Winning the championship earned me a spot in the WRO International Final in Dortmund, Germany, last November. This time, I worked with a partner, Luke, who had won second place at nationals. Together, we built a new robot and programmed it to finish tasks on a different course. 

We didn’t win, but it was still an amazing experience. My favorite part was seeing other robots designed by kids from all over the world. It’s fun to share our ideas with each other.

If you like being creative, learning new things, and solving problems, give robotics a try. You never know where your creations might take you!

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