The kick-off meeting for the RoboLoCo robotics team was held this past Saturday at the Academies. The team is made up primarily of students from the Academies but also from local high schools and even a few are home schooled students. The team of about 50 students will compete soon in the FIRST Robotics Competition, known informally as “the Ultimate Sport for the Mind.” FIRST is an acronym meaning “For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology.”
The competition rules only allow for a limited number of resources to be used by each team to build a robot, and this must be accomplished during the “Build Season,” an intense six-week period. The teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors.
At the first meeting on Saturday, the RoboLoCo team learned via video release this season’s Challenge. This year’s theme is “Deep Space.” Each robot will be challenged with picking up 13” bouncy balls and then delivering them to and loading them into rockets. The robot will also need to install a panel to keep the bouncy balls in the rocket. Finally, the robot must climb onto one of three levels of platforms for extra points. The RoboLoCo team is already at work now with designing their robot and figuring out how it will accomplish all that it needs to in order to beat out the competition.
Mr. Mike Tomlinson and Mr. Rick Sarr are on board to guide the RoboLoCo team hopefully to the world championship tournament. First, though, the team must compete and triumph within the Chesapeake Division, which fields teams from Maryland, Virginia and DC, about 100 -200 teams in all.
One of the cool things about the FIRST Robotics Competition is that it welcomes all skill levels, technical or non-technical. Teams will need all kinds of skill to succeed in this competition, including programming, electronics, metalworking, graphic design, web creation, public speaking, videography, and many more.