Column: WHS robotics team continues to growWORTHINGTON — FIRST Robotics was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.
By: David Rezny, District 518, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — FIRST Robotics was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. “Our mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.” (Dean Kamen Founder of FIRST Robotics)
Last year, with the financial support of several local businesses, and the coaching by Ben Weber of Bedford Industries and Deb Steinle from JC Penney, the JC Penney/Worthington High School team #3871 participated in their rookie year of robotics. Every year, a different challenge is given to the robotics teams at a regional kick-off. Our kickoff took place in Mankato, where teams learn about the challenge, are given a kit-of-parts and have the opportunity to visit with veteran teams. Each team then has six weeks to build, test, modify and program a robot to compete in a regional competition.
There are several competitions that take place throughout the world. Minnesota has three competitions, two at the U of M Minneapolis and one in Duluth. The U of M has roughly 165 teams that compete at Mariucci and Williams arenas. Teams are randomly selected and placed on different alliances for each competition. Each team gets placed on a different alliance for each competition. The teams get to compete seven to 10 times over the course of two days. On the third day, top performing teams choose two other teams and form an alliance. The new alliances compete in a single elimination tournament to determine a winning alliance. The winning alliance travels to St. Louis to compete against other winning alliances from around the world.
This year, our robotics team has grown to more than 14 students. The students, with help from several parent volunteers, have already designed and built a functioning robot. The most important part of robotics is, and always has been, students. Although mentors and sponsors have stepped up and answered the call for help, the students are the ones doing the work. The robot is designed, built and programmed by students. Students are also the people who compete with the robot. Mentors and coaches are encouraged to help with the building process, but are discouraged from doing the actual work. This allows students to get the maximum experience out of their involvement with FIRST Robotics.
This year’s competition requires robots to “shoot” small foam basketballs at four different “hoops.” The robots also need to drive over a center bar, or ride a teeter-totter over the center bar. Points are based on the number of baskets scored, and if they can get robots balanced on the teeter-totter at the end of the competition.
For more information about FIRST Robotics, please visit www.USFIRST.org. You can learn more about Worthington’s team, follow the build and see our sponsors on our school website. Go to: www.isd518.net, click on “schools,” click on “high school,” click on “activities” and then click on “robotics.”
David Rezny is assistant principal at Worthington High School.