More thoughts on the Red Hawk Ringmaster tournament

By Bethany | Our 12/9 tournament went very well. We passed inspection immediately and went to skills. Unfortunately, on our first skills run, things went badly. Luckily, the score was dropped because the field was built incorrectly. We decided to then run our program (on a different field). The robot was moving along the field, bumped the wall, and missed the button. Dillon picked up the robot, set it in the starting square, and hit go again. There were a few issues with getting the refferees up to speed, which meant that the timer was stopped when the robot was touched. Once again, we got our run back. We  then drove skills again on one of the teamwork fields. Our robot started randomly moving when the controller wasn’t being moved, and it was determined that this was because of phones with bluetooth on interfering with our smart radios. That meant, yet again, our match was dropped. The referees also looked for other teams affected by this and dropped their scores too. Eventually, we ended up with a skills score of 92 and a programming score of 27, which was just  barely enough to earn us the Skills Champion award.

We also won the Excellence Award. We hope that it is because we did great, but it may have just been that we were the only Middle School team with a STEM project…

We were really excited for teamwork, but it didn’t go well at first. Our robot works really well with robots that grab rings off of the wall, but a couple of low scores dragged our average down. Once we got going, we earned a score of 148 points, which brought us up to second place. In the finals, we drove with the Yellow Spudnicks, who we drove with in a scrimmage. In the finals, we scored 132, which was enough for us and the Spudnicks to win the Teamwork Champion awards.

We didn’t just learn about strategy. Other teams, whether they knew it or not, taught us about perseverance. Many of the teams at the tournament only had a few weeks to assemble their robots and learn to drive, but their determination kept them at the top of the leaderboard. Other teams faced numerous difficulties but never argued or got upset.

Finally, we learned about troubleshooting. All throughout the day, things went wrong. Instead of telling us exactly what went wrong and why, our coach asked us what we thought had happened and how we thought we could fix the problem. Was it the driver? The robot? Was the field built wrong? We were tasked with figuring this out, and it helped us grow.

Our teamwork scores ranged from 25 points to 148 points. Our skills scores ranged from 2 points to 92 points. Our program ranged from 0 points to 27 points.

Over the course of the day, we became the second teamwork seed. In the finals, we scored 132 points.

At the scrimmage, we predicted that our strategy of grabbing ground rings would work well with other teams’ strategy of going for wall rings. This proved to be true.

Awards we won: Teamwork, Skills, Excellence, STEM

Fall River Tournament Report

By Maia | The Fall River Elementary VEX IQ tournament was awesome!  After we got our robot checked in, we presented our STEM Project.  The judges thought it was great, which made us feel good because we had been working so hard on it.

After STEM, we went to the Skills area to get some driving and programming in.  Driving went okay and we scored 65 points.  Our program didn’t do so well. It seemed to have some bugs it in.

The Teamwork matches were okay.  Usually I like to be the second driver, but for one match I drove first and got four hexballs in the high goals before driver switch! For the teamwork finals, we were paired with a very large robot and we knew it would be very hard to get balanced on the bridge with them.  Our drivers got several hexballs in the goals and got both robots on the bridge, but we weren’t balanced at the final buzzer.  Luckily our score was still enough to get us first place!

Our final score of 95 got us first place in Skills, also. We were really excited that we earned the STEM Project award because we had not gotten that before and we were really proud of our work.  To top it off, we earned our third Excellence Award of the season!

I am very proud of my team for their hard work on the STEM Project and getting first place in Teamwork and Skills.  We will be working on fixing our program later on.

3D Printing with the Tiger Hawks

By Coach Michelle | The team is using 3D printing as an element of their STEM project, and this morning a few of them met their technology teacher, Mr. Schmitz, in the lab at school to fire off prints of some models they made in TinkerCAD.

Mr. Schmitz and the Tiger Hawks 3D printingIf you’ve wondered about 3D printing and have access to a printer, TinkerCAD is a simple and intuitive way to create models that can be printed on a wide range of common 3D printers. A few of the controls take some fiddling to understand, but there are great “how to” videos available to decrease the learning curve. Three of our team members have created models in TinkerCAD, and were ready to see what they’d look like as printed objects.

Tiger Hawk Bethany watching the MOD-t 3D printerPrinting a 3D object on the school’s MOD-t printers, made by New Matter, ended up being almost as easy as printing on my laserjet at home. New Matter’s print engine verifies that your model is printable, and that it fits on the printer’s base plate. If there’s a problem like an oversized object, the software tells you right away and offers some solutions.

Tiger Hawk 3D model on the 3D printerAt the “balanced” setting, which shoots for a happy compromise between print time and print quality, most of the team’s models took less than an hour each to print. The final products matched their visions, for the most part, but a few of their models will require some minor modifications back in TinkerCAD before they try printing again.

We’re lucky to have a well-equipped technology lab at the school that’s available for student use, and a knowledgeable and helpful teacher to work with the kids!