Dark Horse fueled by Dragon fire
On Nov. 12-13 I had the privilege of tagging along as an observer with the newly formed Scripps Middle School Robotics Team, heading to the Great Lakes Bay Region FTC Robotics Qualifier, at Bullock Creek High School in Midland.
Being that our team is newly formed, (team shirts spell it out with the word “Rookies”), few had any idea of what really to expect. This event packed most of the weekend with match after match of four robots battling each round. A field of 35 teams from lower Michigan made up the program lineup.
I myself, was fully equipped with my laptop and paperwork to fill, what I expected to be, significant downtime. Sum total of what I knocked out of my tedious homework equals ZERO!
There was non-stop action in the two ringed arena, plus, the pits were all buzzing with young minds hard at work. Even as a spectator, there was hardly a moment without something going on.
Prior to the match, catastrophe was narrowly averted by our young Dragons. A competing robot inadvertently lost control and knocked ours off the bench.
Any number of intricate, gears, controllers and mechanisms could have been damaged, and with no ready means of replacement, all were on the edge of their seat; could it all be over even before the start? An audible sigh of relief was heard, when it was found that only a bent antenna suffered from the drop. It served as a reminder to our future engineers of how sturdy construction often saves the day. The competition itself involved several elements; shooting whiffle balls into a target, switching on lighted beacons, navigating ramps and lifting a yoga ball three feet in the air to place it in a basket.
These operations are all done under a time limit of two and a half minutes, so speed, accuracy, agility are all obvious challenges, however much of this must take place autonomously; by itself… without a driver!
As the matches, began, one win led to two, led to three. It quickly became clear that the newcomer DragonBot had teeth, and despite lacking the more advanced gyros and vision systems of many rivals, it was not to be trifled with. Four, five, six, seven, eight matches wrapped up; undefeated! Thirty-five teams down, Lake Orion on top; what a day!
What is next for our middle school dream team?
Although there are several other tournaments they will travel to throughout the year, this win catapults Scripps to the Michigan FTC State Championship in Battle Creek December 16th and 17th.
Team Scripps welcomes the support of any spectators from the community to cheer them on at the Championship or any upcoming event.
Additionally, sponsorships to help purchase parts and equipment would be greatly appreciated by our young team of future engineers, programmers and technologists.
A special thanks must go out to Nick Colwell, Mike Tefend and other mentors that have guided the team to a resounding victory right out of the gate.
Awesome job team, my congratulations to you. Good luck on bringing home the big win from State!
— Mark Thurber, Orion Twp. resident