Robots invade Denver

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(Photo: CPR/Ryan Warner)
<p>Audrey Menzer, 14, with one of the robots she&#039;s submitting in the International Robot Olympiad in Denver. It&#039;s built to look like a minion from the animated film Despicable Me.</p>

Photo: Audrey Menzer with robotHundreds of kids from around the world are competing in the International Robot Olympiad in Denver this week, participating in events like Robot Survival and Robot Dance.

Audrey Menzer, 14, from Douglas County, Colo., is among them.

Menzer and her teammate took silver in last year's competition which was held in South Korea. The pair were among the first Americans to win in the Olympiad’s 15-year history.

Talking about what she designed for this year's competition, Menzer describes robots based on the animated film "Despicable Me" and the hundreds of small yellow robots featured in the film.

"Ours is going to be minion-themed," Menzer said. "We have two background dancers, two of them are minions. And the main dancer is Gru, the main evil guy in the movie."

The robots don't always work: one of the minions malfunctioned when she tried to show it to Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner in the CPR studio.

"We can't ask for our coaches' help, so we have to figure it out on our own," Menzer said. "You have to be really prepared -- I'm going to make a checklist and check it twice."

This is the first time the Robot Olympiad will be held in the western hemisphere and, if Menzer is any indication, all the fun could boost U.S. teens’ math and science skills.

"I know that South Korea has some big opponents for us [in the Olympiad this week] because they dominate a lot of the time," Menzer said.

"That pumps us to do better," she added.

A key to winning more medals for the U.S. might be to get more girls, like Menzer, involved.

Colorado's team has just three girls in the competition, including Menzer and her sister.

"We're trying to get girls involved in this," Menzer said. "Come on -- we need them!"