By TAMMI NAUDUS
This past weekend area high school students took part in the second of 10 F.I.R.S.T. (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competitions (FRC). The weekend saw 35 area teams accompanied by the robots that they created.
Southington’s Cyber Knights went home with the Chairman’s Award.
Each team had been working since the beginning of January to design, program, create, and test robots. Piper Weingart of Torrington and member of the local Operation P.E.A.C.E. team explained, “The first Saturday in January we get a game and instruction manuals. We have to build a robot to play the game. We get six weeks from that Saturday in January. Then we have to bag the robot. The week before competition we can do a little bit of modification, but not a huge amount. Then we come to compete, and then bag it again. We cannot touch it between competitions.”
This year’s game was called Recycle Rush. Robots scored points by stacking totes on scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers then properly disposing of pool noodles, representing litter. Each member of the team has a different job to do. There is a coach, who works as the driver’s eyes on the field; the Drivers, who work to control the robot and its mechanisms; and the last person in the game is called the human player. This person’s job is to interact physically with the robot itself. Gwen Gorman, a senior at Southington High, and member of the Cyber Knights explained, “I stand at the feeder station. I have to pick up the totes and basically put them in play to the robot. The robot then stacks them internally on the field.”
There is a lot of camaraderie among the students. “This team is the best team I have ever been on.” explained Cyber Knight Natiya Washer, while hugging her teammate, “They not only excel at this sport, but they excel at making sure every member are the best person they can be.” The team has to work together without division to brainstorm ideas and make their robot a success.
“We all share ideas, and cooperate to make it happen,” said Jacob Vicinus, a member of the Plainville Digital Devils.
Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman was present at the opening ceremonies. She said, “You’re all doing what everybody expects people to do now. That is, study science, technology, engineering, and math. They are pushing for that a lot in this state, because that is what the future is all about.”
Photos by Tammi Naudus