From left, Atiena Branch, Lindsay Carlesi and Katrina Shaw work on repairs to their robot after their second of five matches Saturday at the FIRST Tech Challenge Eastern Virginia Qualifying Tournament at Norfolk State University.

Archived Story

Wheel lost, confidence found

Published 9:22pm Saturday, February 2, 2013

Robotics team learns new skills at tourney

The Bulldogs’ robot lost its wheel but still won in its second of five rounds of play at the FIRST Tech Challenge Eastern Virginia Qualifying Tournament on Saturday.

The contraption conveniently lost its wheel in front of the other alliance’s goal, preventing that team from hanging the rings it needed to score points. Meanwhile, the other half of the alliance King’s Fork was on managed to hang several rings and clinch the win.

“I liked actually being in the competition,” said Atiena Branch, a member of the team.

The team ranked 22nd out of 26 teams in Saturday’s contest, which was hosted at Norfolk State University. They missed their chance to move on to the state championship, but they might still go to watch, team member Lindsay Carlesi said. Just for participating, they also qualify for scholarships.

After their second competition, the six-member team gathered to fix the wheel and perform other maintenance to prepare for the later rounds.

Having organized relatively recently, the team had only about two weeks to prepare, the teens said. They received a kit from the Virginia FIRST Robotics that included the main computer and battery, metal and wiring. Then they only had to figure out how to build it and control it.

Lindsay was the main engineer.

“We didn’t have very much time, so I had to pick an easy way of building it,” she said.

At Saturday’s competition, teams were randomly paired in alliances and pitted against other alliances in each round. The robots scored points by hanging rings on a goal made of PVC pipes set in the middle of a 12-foot square playing field. Bonus points were awarded for hanging weighted rings and lifting the other robot from their alliance.

The teens on the team — which also includes Katrina Shaw, Kenny Nguyen, Nicoles Williams and Bryan Clark — might think they’re just having fun, but supporters of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics competitions say they’re learning real-world applications of science, technology and math, as well as skills like creativity, teamwork and sportsmanship.

But don’t tell the kids. They’re too busy having fun.

“I got to meet a lot of people and learn a lot,” Lindsay said. “I think I’m learning that no matter what can go wrong, always know that people will help you.”


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