Published: Feb 22, 2012 02:00 AM
Modified: Feb 20, 2012 05:01 PM
APEX - The machines were a bit like the children who came to see them: recalcitrant at first, balky, as if too shy to perform for a crowd.
But when the Apex High School Robotics Team finally got a clear Internet connection, their two tinker toys clicked to life and began whirring and spinning, like the wheels of imagination in the minds of their audience.
"Can you make it pick up laundry and put it in the washing machine?" one boy asked team member Tyler Sosnin.
"Wouldn't it be cool if you could make it throw stuff?"
"Can it pick things up?"
The team brought two contraptions to demonstrate in the Eva Perry Library in Apex for a crowd of about three dozen people. One was a softball-sized, Lego-based, kit-built number that cost about $300 and can be controlled with a joy stick, which team member Daniel Mahinthakumar handed over to the mostly middle-school-age crowd that lined up to try their skill. It buzzed left, then right, then spun around.
"It looks curious, like it's exploring," said, Shea Dawson, a sixth-grader at Salem Middle School.
The team's other robot, named CEMOR, for Cougars Electronic Motorized Operating Robot -- the geek version of the Apex High School Mascot -- cost about $1,500 and has been scrimmaging to prepare for a statewide competition next weekend in Greensboro.
About the size of a milk crate, it's an assemblage of motors, gears, a conveyor belt and perforated sheet metal. To score high at next week's contest, it will need to pick up little rubber balls and drop them into a box.
For bonus points, it will pick up the box.