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Hundreds of students compete in robot competition

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Robots compete at Clarkson University
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An intense competition raged in the North Country on Friday. About 400 students came together for the FIRST Tech Challenge Championship held at Clarkson University. Our Barry Wygel checked out the event to see how the competition works.

POTSDAM, N.Y. -- From across four states, 45 teams of high school and middle school students came to Clarkson on Friday to compete in 'Ring it Up.'

"That involves placing rings on a three-by-three grid of PVC pegs, so it's kind of like tic-tac-toe in four dimensions," said James Carroll, the tournament director.

The end result of the game is the product of months of works by these students.

"The ideal is to have the students designing and building their own systems," said Carroll.

For the students of Norwood-Norfolk, this is the first time they have competed and they said they weren't sure what to expect.

"It definitely exceeded our expectations, we didn't really expect much coming in, but right now we are in sixth place," said Brandon Short, a student at Norwood-Norfolk High School.

Brandon said he wants to be an engineer, so joining the robot team seemed like a logical step. Jessica says you don't necessarily need to be a science fan to join.

"I think anyone can do it," said Jessica Fulk, another student at Norwood-Norfolk High School.

Now the kids I talked to said while it's fun to win, that's not really what it is all about. It's really about learning and having fun.

"It's usually a fun after-school activity, and it's kind of fun to hang our with your friends and work on things like this," said Elizabeth Hebert, a student at Massena Middle School.

"And to learn new things and to experience what engineers experience in their first years," added Alexandria Brown, also from Massena.

Elizabeth and Alexandria are from Massena's middle school team, but are competing at the high school level. They suffered a little bit of a setback...

"Our robot kind of malfunctioned because a wire was loose so we didn't get any points," admitted Hebert.

...but they said they have fixed the problem and they are ready to get back in the arena.

If you're interested in catching some of the action, Clarkson is offering a live stream of the competition at

The competition is in part sponsored by Time Warner Cable, the parent company of YNN, and it's Connect A Million Minds Initiative. For more information on the initiative, go to ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP