Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Long Season, A New Region

At Red Hook
Our two FIRST Tech Challenge teams competed in a new region this year. Our first year in the Hudson Valley Region was long, but good. In the past, our teams competed in a region with just one tournament. The format in our new region is a bit different, with qualifying tournaments ahead of the regional championship. What does that mean for our teams? More competitions and more travel.

Bond Bots FTC 8527

The first competition our teams were in was the Central Qualifier, held in Red Hook, December 20th. While both teams struggled with connectivity issues, at the end of the day both teams won awards. Bat Bots FTC 6966 won the Motivate Award, and Bond Bots FTC 8527 won the Connect Award. Bond Bots were chosen as an alliance partner for semi-finals as well. Both teams enjoyed meeting new teams and came home with new ideas to try.

Bat Bots FTC 6966

On January 16th, the teams competed in the Capital Qualifier, in Albany. Both teams showed improvement over the first competition. Bat Bots were selected as alliance partner for semi-finals and won the Judges Award. They impressed the judges with their willingness to help another team that was struggling to pass inspection. Since neither team qualified for the Hudson Valley Championship, our season was complete in our new region.

The teams did have one additional chance to compete when we were able to secure spots at the Vermont Championship held at the University of Vermont in Burlington on February 27th. Bat Bots ran short on time to get their design modifications completed prior to the tournament, so this wasn’t their best showing of the season, but they had a great day as a team. Bond Bots were able to hang their robot in their second match. Unfortunately connectivity issues in the next three matches left them a bit disappointed at the end of the day. Both teams got to meet more teams and had a great experience at this event.

Finally hanging!
At the beginning of the season our goals were to win an award and to be selected as alliance partner. Both teams were able to do that. The teams learned so much. There were many ups and downs this season, but the improvement both teams had over last year are something to be proud of. These kids work hard, often for six hours or more at a time. They are here because they want to learn. The robotics program needs team members with different interests. Some want to build robots, others want to program them. Others contribute in other ways. Some manage the team’s social media, others help with fundraising and making the business plan. They all are learning that they can accomplish more by working together, pitching in to help wherever they can. They have a lot of work to do, but still can find ways to have fun along the way.

As we say goodbye to one season and begin the off-season work to prepare for the next, we say thank you to all the team members for their efforts and a huge thank you to all our program mentors and parents. Every single one of you is an important part of this program.

We can’t wait to see what the teams can do next year. Stay tuned…

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