Previously a stellar robotics team from a local Virginia middle school, all budding-engineer 8th graders, competed in a Prince William County-wide robotics competition. They did well enough to progress to the next competition! Twenty two teams advanced to this new competition.
This competition was entirely different. They had three months to come up with one of two kinds of bots - a large one that does work and a small speedster. The eighth graders did the speedsters only.
This course was entirely different - this one is a figure 8. The large bots had to be low enough to go through the tunnel, strong enough to go up and down hills, have an arm that can lift that ramp 12" and smack the balls so they wrap twice around the wooden arm.
THIS IS NO SMALL FEAT!
Keep in mind, every single bot works perfectly in the school's workshop! Every bot works perfectly on paper!
But not every bot works perfectly! They have to be tested! The first time the kids find out if their bot does what it is designed to do is the morning of the competition. Prior to that they know what it has to do, but no bot is tested in what it was designed to do.
So the teams are invited to come one hour early to test it! If it does not do what they designed, they have one hour to add power, or wheels, or batteries for more strength, or change weight distribution to go up the hill without falling backwards... well, they learn a lot in that hour!
Then it is back to the "pit" for tweaking!
EVERY SINGLE TEAM LEARNED THINGS ABOUT THEIR DESIGNS AND HAD TO CHANGE SOMETHING! SOME BOTS DID NOT WORK AT ALL! DESPITE BEING PERFECTLY DESIGNED ON PAPER, IN REAL LIFE SOME DID NOT WORK OUT AS PLANNED.
At this stage, unfortunately, some teams dropped out.
Our school entered one large bot and one speedster. One head's up - during the competition, four bots are competing at the same time! So they have to avoid each other, not block, not push off the ramp, and not prevent another from moving or from being able to perform its tasks.
The rule is, if you knock over another bot, you must right it or face a penalty!
My daughter's bot was accidentally turned over by a large one, that then used its arm to right it!
And they did so inside of 10 seconds. Each round only lasts 3 minutes, so 10 seconds is a long time!
Once her bot was knocked off the hump and broke a wheel. Another time it had a gear bent.
That cost them rounds, and unfortunately lots of points, as it required going into the pit to make repairs. They had tool kits and lots of replacement parts in the pit!
There were 10 rounds in all. So they competed in 8.
All in all, they came in 11/22. Not great, but not bad!
The top three went on to the next level.
One final fun thing. At the end they had a road race to see which of the speedsters was the fastest.
Of course the operator is essential in this race.
They timed each bot's ability to run the course two times.
My daughter won the competition!
At the end of her race, she celebrated her victory by climbing to the top of the hump and doing a victory dance, turning around a couple of times!
It was pretty funny, and the crowd loved it.
I happen to think that the reason she won was the fashion eye wear, but that is just me.
She was pretty good with the bot and the guiding mechanism! When I told her I thought that maybe the cute eye wear was a big part of her win, I don't think she believed me...
All in all, it was a very fun morning. I was able to schedule the morning to be there. That isn't always possible!
But it was today.
It was great to watch all the kids, their ideas, abilities to make changes and repairs, and their work to make their bots happen!
The three winners had fabulous robots!
Congratulations to all who designed, built and competed!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560