Robotics Team 456 enters competition mode

Published 4:11 pm Monday, March 10, 2014

We have spent this week preparing for competition. At each competition we have a designated area where we work on the robot and keep our tools and supplies. This 10×10 foot area is what we call the “pit.” There are dozens of teams working side by side. At competition there is a completely different atmosphere than any other type of event. Though we are competing against each other we are also working together. If a team breaks down or is in need of a part everyone tries to pitch in and help that team. This is what everyone in FIRST calls “Gracious Professionalism.” FIRST has an award that recognizes the teams who exhibit the most “Gracious Professionalism,” which we have won twice. The point of competition is for everyone there to have fun. From the people in the stands to the volunteers on the field, everyone should experience that science and technology can be fun. The students get satisfaction by seeing the robots, that they have spent countless hours building and programming, compete. To watch our competition March 14 & 15, visit our Facebook page for details.

We talk a lot about FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) but FIRST has programs for all ages. Jr. FLL (FIRST LEGO League) is for children ages 6-9, we currently have 3 teams in Vicksburg. They design a small model with LEGOs and a poster that illustrates their journey. FLL is for elementary to middle school students. They build LEGO-based robots to complete tasks on a themed playing surface. They also are judged at competition for three different areas: Core Values, Robot Design, and Project. FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) is designed for students in grades 7-12 to compete head to head, using a sports model. Teams are responsible for designing, building, and programming their robots to compete in an alliance format against other teams. Finally there is FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition). It is designed for high school students to get to experience real world projects. FRC teams are under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits. Teams of 25 students or more are challenged to build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors.

This past November we co-hosted an FLL tournament, the Central Mississippi Qualifier, with FTC team Techno Warriors Advanced at the Vicksburg Convention Center. Vicksburg had 5 teams participate at the event: The Bovina Brigade, Beechwood BeeBots, Southpark Bulldog Builders, Vicksburg Victors, and River City Robotics. The top teams from this event moved on to the FLL State Championship in Hattiesburg, MS on March 1. Four of the five Vicksburg teams qualified.

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At the State Championship, the Bovina Brigade won the judge’s award for Innovative Solutions. Their research showed that 83 percent of surveyed Bovina families own a fire alarm. Bovina Brigade’s innovative concept is to add a cellular module to smoke detectors so that people in their homes can be warned of tornados via Code Red. Team members are Ibrahim Blake, Abby Wren, David Medina, Audrey Ezell, Matthew Turnage, Raven McDonald, Indy Biedenharn, Gracie Watford, and Mary Beth Gordon. Coaches are Teresa Kitchens and Karen Biedenharn.

The robotics column is a collaboration between team members Kelcey McMaster, Harrison Hunter, Katie Martin and Mary Elizabeth Ballard.