Robotics teams compete at state level


February 2, 2023

The Wahkiakum High team collecting their trophy to the applause of the room. Team president Arwynn carrying the trophy and leading the team. Photo by Jessica Vik.

Submitted by Ron Wright

Our team left Wahkiakum High School at 7:30 a.m., Friday morning for its trip to the State First Tech Challenge robotics tourney at the Doppler Building in downtown Seattle. Our first stop was at the Seattle Pacific University for a campus tour and lunch, then on to the Boeing Museum of Flight. By far the biggest smiles were from those coming out of the flight simulator - upside down in a harness doing a barrel roll is something to experience. Afterwards we checked in at our hotel then did our traditional team dinner at the Spaghetti Factory. Saturday morning, competition day, we were up at 6 a.m., to be at the competition arena in downtown Seattle by 7:30 a.m., joining 31 other teams from all over the state for the day's competitions.

Robotics competitions have no differentiation by school size; we are all in it together, competing in the robot performance, and for six engineering awards. For robot performance, each of the 32 teams is in an alliance for one of five competition matches with one other team, and against an alliance of two other teams, then changes partners for their next match. Teams move objects around the 12'x12' field under very strict competition rules, often "inadvertently" mashing into each other. Scores are totaled and the leaders are determined. In these qualifying matches we placed 13th out of 32 teams. For comparison, we were 17th out of 24 teams last year, thus meeting one of our goals for this season. During this competition time our team is divided into sub teams to get all of the work done: Drive team (Nathan, Peter, KT, and Micah) drive the robot during the matches. Scout team (Anna and Jamey on alliance partners, Alan on alliance competitors) determine other teams' abilities and whether they can do what they say they can do. The PR team (Arwynn, Seojin, Reagen, Elijah and Patrick) staffed our booth to answer questions from other teams and from judges determining the Awards.

Before the competitions each team is grilled in a private presentation with judges who decide which team is good enough to earn one of the Engineering Awards. These same judges check out all of the teams for the remainder of the day to gather more information before making their decisions. These awards reward those teams who best exemplify FIRST principles in engineering design, practice and community. We earned third place in the Motivate Award, given to that team which motivates other kids to learn robotics. We earned the first place trophy in the Connect Award, "given to the team that most connects with their local science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) community. A true FIRST team is more than a sum of its parts and recognizes that engaging their local STEM community plays an essential part in their success. The recipient of this award is recognized for helping the community understand FIRST, the FIRST Tech Challenge, and the team itself. This team has a clear team plan and has identified steps to achieve their goals."

As you can imagine, this is a really big accomplishment. We won out of 32 teams from all over the state, from every size of school. We were the smallest school at State this year. We very much want to thank our sponsors, mentors, and supporting organizations for this award: You all share with us in it. Thank you.

Robotics Club Mecha-Mules continues in the second semester. We have one team going to compete at state in Tacoma, in April, in SkillsUSA Mobile Robotics. We begin defending our SeaPerch Qualifier championship in the underwater robotics SeaPerch season. The Qualifier is at the Cathlamet Pool on March 31. We continue working with elementary and middle school students to prepare them for future careers in problem solving and engineering. If your organization would like to hear a status report from our club, or help out, please contact us at Wahkiakum High School.


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