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AHS Robotics Club raises funds by recycling electronics
ARLINGTON — The Arlington High School Robotics Club faced unpleasant weather as close to half of their roughly two-dozen members stood outside and patiently collected cash donations and electronic items at their annual recycling drive on Oct. 1.
AHS Robotics Club President Dan Radion estimated that not only the day's cold rain, but also the event's move to a new location might have diminished the community's participation.
"Fewer people have come by this year than last year, when we were at the high school," said Radion, as he and his fellow students stood ready to load computers, monitors, laptops, TVs, cell phones, printers, telephones and computer accessories into the PC Recycle truck in the parking lot of the Co-op Farm Supply in downtown Arlington. "We've looked through and found a few working pieces of electronic equipment, like computer screens, that our club might be able to use for our next build season. Most of it's gone straight to PC Recycle, but we've been able to get some stuff for free."
The annual recycling drive is free, but donations fund the club, which competes against close to 100 other high school teams each year in assembling robots and pitting them against each other in various tasks at the CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
"The amount of funds we have will determine how ambitious we can be," said Radion, who noted that this year's recycling drive had collected $120 by 1 p.m., four hours after they'd set up their tent outside the Co-op. "Last year, we had a couple of folks who donated $100 each, but this year, we might not break $800."
"We still accomplished one task today," said fellow AHS Robotics Club member Ryan Frederick. "We disassembled the frame from one of our old robots."
"We collect money at recycling drives, but we also recycle our own robots," said Sean McClenaghan, another club member.
Radion cited the club's bonding as a team and dedication to its tasks as valuable learning experiences in their own right.
"It's more than just competition," Radion said. "We learn about businesses, from those who support us, and we develop 3D design skills."
"These kids are committed," said Brett Sarver, director of the AHS technology program, who added that students have applied for a grant from the Office of Naval Research. "They're the ones who make this all happen."