Teenagers’ robot “Clawdius Seizer” invades Capitol

It clacked and whirred at a booming pitch across the marble tile. Its single red light blinked like an eye. It jerked and pivoted between rushing lawmakers and hustling lobbyists, directed by a teenager holding what looked like a game controller. Meet Claudius Seizer.

Claudius is the product of 1,900 hours of labor between 45 Colorado high school students. He was built by Alpine Robotics Team 159 at Pouder High School in Fort Collins.

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“We do everything from scratch. We cut all the metal. We drill all the holes. All the channels you see here, we milled that out,” said sophomore Calvin Young, admiring the boxy bot.

Young picked up his skills, like all the students on the robotics team, from a slightly older peer mentor. His was senior Hannah Slocumb.

“I joined my junior year, and that’s when I decided I really want to go to STEM,” said Slocumb. “Next year I’m gong to Harvey Mudd College in California to study engineering or chemistry. It’s [STEM] been a big influence on me.”

Slocumb and another of her mentees, sophomore Olivia Brett, said the robotics team has done a lot to bring on more women — including reaching out to Girl Scouts groups. This year there was a high of 12 women on the 45-person team, and they all hope to see that figure grow.

“It’s getting there. It’s climbing,” said Young. “We really want robotics to be inviting to everyone.”

Team 159 recently took Clawdius to regional competitions in both Florida and Colorado where he teamed up with other robots to stack boxes and balance various objects on top of them. His team didn’t finish at the top,  but they did win what they feel is a more important prize: an award for “gracious professionalism.”

Left to right: Hannah Slocumb, Olivia Brett, and Calvin Young chatting robotics with Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs.