By Jeremiah Beckett
CHS Tech Club Advisor
For The Cordova Times
This past month Cordova High School sent two robotics teams to compete at the state level for the First Lego League (FLL) and First Tech Challenge (FTC) competitions. This is the inaugural year for the CHS robotics teams, whose members were thrilled about winning awards at regional levels and having the opportunity to advance to the state events.
The CHS Junior High FLL team went to the Alaska Robot Rendezvous in Anchorage to compete with over 50 teams from across the state. The competition was an all-day event, with hundreds of students participating.
Our Cordova team got the luck of draw and was first in line for matches which put them right on the ground floor during opening ceremonies.
As the ceremony started our team had a slight hiccup with our transport box and their robot went crashing to the floor shattering into pieces. The team held their composure, gathered the pieces, and got the match moved out one hour so they could fix the robot. Fortunately they were able to quickly rebuild the robot and successfully tested all their programs. This was by far the biggest learning lesson of the day and showed how great our students can be in the face of diversity. It was a proud moment as a coach and now we know why they say ‘Don’t drop the bot’.
Throughout the day we learned a lot from other teams on robot designs and the competition. While the junior high team didn’t place at the state event we did improve our scores, expanded the robot challenges we tackled, and had so much fun. This was a great first year and team is very excited about next season.
The CHS Senior High FTC team had the opportunity to participate in the state FTC Championship at the UAA Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.
The event spanned two days, with robot inspections and judging interviews day one, and the actual competition the following day.
On Friday morning we also got a personal tour of UAA’s new engineering building, with the opportunity to meet several professors and students working in civil engineering, geomatics, 3D printing, and the robot club. The team was all ears and jaws dropped over some of the collegiate opportunities they learned about.
The team’s robot inspections went smoothly and they felt their engineering design review with judges was stronger than regionals. Moving to competition day the team faced stiff competition, winning only one of five alliance matches.
However we scored much better in our autonomous mode and continued to learn more about the competition.
For the season, Cordova ranked 27th of 55 teams across the state, a great way to start year one. The kids had such a great time this season they want to continue working on the robot through the school year during tech club meetings to learn more about programming the sensors and motors. The team is also actively working on outreach to educate our community, other students, and the schools about FIRST opportunities. You may have seen some of the team in the Iceworm with our impromptu float, which got special permission to shoot candy from our robot.
As our first season of robotics concludes, all the kids are very excited about this exciting new competition and the opportunity to work together on fun challenges. Having both our junior and senior high teams win awards and go to state competition was a great start the robotics programs.
We’re looking forward to continued improvement and future opportunities this creates for students in Cordova.