Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto

As the mother of four children, I've spent a lot of time in the stands, watching my kiddos do their thing. I've been to fencing tournaments, ballet recitals, baseball games, hockey games- you name it, I've probably seen it. Until a few weekends ago. On that weekend I saw something totally new and different. I had a front row seat to the FIRST Mid-Atlantic Regional Robotics Tournament.
It was hosted by Reagan's high school robotics team and was held in their gym. His team's name is the Seneca Iron Devils - #1647. The Iron Devils have been competing in tournaments like this one for over a decade. It is serious business with seriously competitive students. Each year, a select committee chooses a new "game" for the national competition. Then each high school team has 6 weeks to design and build a robot with that game's particular rules in mind. This year's game was called stronghold.

Here's the design the Iron Devils chose for their robot this year.  They had 3 subteams of students, each group working on a specific aspect of the robot. They had a software team, a mechanical team, and an electrical team. Reagan was on the software team. I bet you never would have guessed that.
Here's the team's Tshirt, covered with buttons from some of their previous competitions. Totally cool.
They even had online streaming of the tournament. This way, family and friends in other parts of the country could watch the entire competition- in real time. 
Here's my one and only picture of Reagan looking at me during the tournament. With teenage boys, sometimes you just gotta take what you can get. Check out those cool goggles. Safety first, people.
The goal of stronghold is to have your robot pick up a dodge ball and drive it over, under, or through various obstacles. Once you've managed that task, you then have to shoot the ball into the tower. There are two openings in each tower- the upper goal being worth more points than the lower one. You're also awarded points for defense, teamwork with other robots, and agility. All this is done by two students using a remote control at the opposite end of the playing field.
Here we are waiting for the Iron Devils' robot to take the field. To say it got loud right after I took this picture is like saying Texas can get a little warm. This place went absolutely bananas. Apparently, The Red Headed Kid had a hunch something was up, because his ears were already plugged.
Then it was game on, people. Robots were flying all over the place. Plowing through castle gates and shooting balls 8 feet into the air.
But when all was said and done, the red team from Nemesis ran away with the tournament. They outscored every opponent with impressive skill and agility.
And the Seneca Iron Devils? They held their own and came away winning the Chairman's Award. This means they'll be moving on to the Regional Championships held at LeHigh University in Pennsylvania. I've already got it written down on my calendar and I can't wait to see what happens at that competition. But this time around, just to be on the safe side, I'll be bringing some serious ear protection.

No comments:

Post a Comment