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October 16. 2013 9:13PM

30 teams head to Goffstown High for River Rage

GOFFSTOWN — The battle lines will be drawn and Frisbees will be flying through the air when River Rage comes to Goffstown High School.

More than 30 teams from New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine will converge in Goffstown on Saturday, Oct. 26, for the 17th annual River Rage, the local off-season FIRST Robotics competition.

“It’s the longest running one-day, off-season event in the world,” said Ed Forcier, chairman of the River Rage Planning Committee and a former Manchester teacher. “We’re pretty proud of that.”

Forcier, along with Stu Lewin, chairman of the Goffstown/Manchester Team 501 Steering Committee, and Sam Lewin, a Goffstown High School student and Team 501 member, met with the Goffstown School Board recently to request the use of the school’s gym for the competition.

River Rage had been held at Manchester’s Memorial High School for several years, but because of scheduling conflicts the teams had to change venues, said Forcier.

The first off-season competition took place as Rumble on the Rock in Plymouth, Mass. The New Hampshire contest began 16 years ago and took place at Manchester’s Riverfest, but when that event closed the competition moved to Manchester West High School, then to Memorial High School.

Forcier said the crew will transform the Goffstown High School gym on Friday, Oct. 25, by laying down matting and carpeting and installing aluminum sides, electronics and lights on the playing field.

The free event opens to the public at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 26, with a ceremony and the first match. About 400 to 500 team members and spectators are expected to attend. The teams will sell food and beverages

“It’s really neat to see this humongous playing field. It’s 54 feet long and 27 feet wide. It has these high-end barriers that are high to the ceiling that they shoot Frisbees into,” Forcier said. “This particular game has a tall ladder structure in the middle that the robots climb up on.”

Kevin Farley, curriculum coordinator at Goffstown High School, said River Rage brings multiple teams together and enhances the FIRST Robotics Competition, which takes place the first weekend in March at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

“These teams stay working throughout the year and attend state and local competitions,” Farley said. “River Rage keeps the teams together, keeps them working with the robots, keeps them fundraising, raises morale and keeps them in a cohesive group.”

Forcier said teams use River Rage to introduce students to FIRST Robotics or those who are looking to get involved in a program in lieu of athletics. River Rage and FIRST competitions allow students to meet new friends, learn hands-on robotics and learn skills they’ll use for life. He also said many students who have participated in the program have become engineers and have careers in related fields.
 
“It’s really a great program. I really like what it does for the kids,” he said.

Forcier explained how electronics makes a difference in machinery people use every day; for instance, car designers have replaced power steering with electronic steering.

“I found out that the technology that the kids learn in programming robots, wiring up the robots and writing the program to make the robots do what they want them to do is the same programs used in new cars. It’s the same computer logic programs,” he said. “This program is current and high tech because of the mentors, advisers, engineers, teachers, book-keepers and advertisers who all bring these skills to the students so they can learn stuff you can’t get in the traditional classroom.”

For more information about River Rage, visit riverrage.powerknights.com, or for information about FIRST Robotics Competition, visit www.usfirst.org.

sclark@newstote.com


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