Etched in Stone

Ridgebotics team bags up robot for San Diego competition

Isabella Mahal

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Photo Credit: Ayden Adair

On Tuesday February 21 at 7 pm, the Fossil Ridge High School robotics team held a celebratory “Bag n Tag” event in the commons and the performing arts center. FIRST team 4338, generally dubbed Ridgebotics, has spent the last six weeks designing, building, and programming a robot to perform special tasks in a challenge issued by the FIRST organization (For Inspiration of Recognition of Science and Technology). The Ridgebotics team is extremely excited about their competition prospects this year, and are confident in their completed robot.

When participants were asked what skills they found necessary in the club, communication came up a great deal. Carissa Vos was involved in Lego Robotics at her middle school, which sparked an early interest in Robotics. She is now a co-captain in her third year on Fossil’s team, and explains that public speaking and community outreach are two major parts that people don’t often think of when they think of building robots. FIRST team members from Fossil visited elementary and middle schools this season to demonstrate their robots and to help foster a love of science in children from the community.

In early March, the team will be traveling to San Diego, California for a regional competition. Later in the month, they’ll compete again in Denver. Henry Aurand explains that most tournaments have around 50 teams from all over the country and the world. He says that, “there’s a really great energy there of a bunch of people who are really excited about their robots and to watch their team compete. It’s a really fun environment.” For the 2017 competition, Fossil’s robot had to be able to pick up gears and place them on pegs, pick up ammunition in the form of balls and throw them into a tube, and pull itself up a rope. All those skills were shown at the Bag n Tag event.

Each member of the team has their own favorite part. For Aurand, it’s seeing the progression of ideas and thought processes that go into the finished product. Everyone has to collaborate and play off each others strengths, bringing the team very close together by the final competition. Mr. Park, head coach, finds the development of the students even more interesting. He finds that, “this is an environment where they can really take on any role they want to, this is like running a small business. Two thirds of this program isn’t building a robot.”

That analogy holds especially true for the marketing, finance, and production aspects of the Ridgebotics team. There is obviously the mechanical side of building the robots, but also the academic development that comes with learning to program and problem solve. Park is excited for the new ninth period Robotics class that will soon be offered at Fossil, during which students will be given a review of what the FIRST organization does and then can choose what they are really passionate about. In the end, as Matt Drysdale put it, the most important part of the program is “the bonds you form with your teammates.”

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Ridgebotics team bags up robot for San Diego competition