Earlier this month, OVS kicked off its new robotics season at Lower Campus with the official release of “SKYSTONE,” the theme of the latest FIRST Tech Challenge game.
FIRST Tech Challenge is a competitive robotics program for middle and high school students in which students design, build, program, test and operate their own robots, under the guidance of adult coaches and mentors.
Every year, the competition provides a different challenge to the participants. This year, robotics teams will travel into the “Star Wars” universe, assembling robots that will need to stack lego-block “stones” together to build a “structure that pushes into the skies.”
In the past, the OVS robotics team has had to get up extra early on Saturday mornings to travel about three hours to watch the kick-off event. But not this year, as OVS hosted the event for the first time.
“To attend the kick-off event is a really good way to start the whole season,” said Chris Westcott, a mentor of the OVS robotics team. “It was small but personable. People could ask questions they really need to ask and get answers right back.”
Once again, this year OVS robotics team will field two teams: Spudbot and Spudnik.
Junior Ethan Gao, the lead programmer for the Spudnik team, believes there is one big challenge awaiting the teams this season.
“Programing,” Ethan said. “Because this whole game is very light on actual robot building, the main focus is on software and training.”
But his mentor thinks that the robot itself is very challenging too.
“It seems the big challenge is to keep our robot in a shorter height and [getting it to] move faster, and how we can build a high city within this game and keep it from falling over,” said Mr. Westcott.
This year, there is a specific rule that the robots must be less than 14 inches tall. They need to keep the height down first, but be able to expand it high enough to create the building structure during the game.
As a senior who has been in the robotics team for the past three years, Angela Qu has set big goals for the coming season.
“Get into the world championship,” she said. “Since last year we got the top two of the league, I hope this year we can do better, and break the personal record.”
To help with this year’s opening event, several volunteers from Upper Campus were on hand to help the kickoff event. They were mainly guiding people who had never been there.
Junior Kanna Terunuma was one of the volunteers, and she enjoyed the kickoff event.
“This is a really good opportunity to get to know new people from other schools,” Kanna said. “Because we usually have this kind of opportunity in sports games where people [are] always so competitive. But here, these robotic teams from different schools, they are communicating in a good way and really helping each other to improve the robotics skills.”
With the first competition coming in November, the time for them to prepare is very compact. Right after the kickoff event, the members on the team already started to share and discuss their ideas on the robots, while they were having lunch together at Ojai Pizza.
“You can tell our members are pretty excited about it,” said Mr. Westcott, who noted that Ethan Gao and Mark Pindur were drawing their ideas on napkins while waiting for the food. “The best ideas are put on napkins.”Share