After a successful season winning awards at local tournaments in Thief River Falls and East Grand Forks three teams from Franklin Middle School and two teams from Challenger Elementary School, were invited to participate in the Vex Minnesota State Robotics Championship.
Both the middle school and elementary school division teams participated in two competitions. The first is a teamwork competition. The teams are randomly paired with other teams in the competition to try to score as many points as possible working as a team. After seven qualifying rounds the teams are ranked based on the average score of their top six matches.
In the Middle school division, at the end of Qualifying matched the TechnoTrons team from Franklin was ranked third and paired for the fourth ranked team Vex Tape from Princeton MN. The Gear Gals team was ranked eight and was paired with the Spacedogs team from Mankato MN. The Flying Lobster teams ended qualifications ranked thirteenth and just missed the ten-team final.
In the Finals the TechnoTrons and VexTape team were able to combine for 108 points to win the middle school State championship. The Gear Gals alliance scored 92 points and ended in 4th place.
The Second part of the competition is the Skills competition. In Skills each team competes on the field by themselves for one minute under driver control and then in a separate minute user autonomous programming. Each team can try driver control and autonomous three times each. At the end of the competition the TechnoTrons team won the skill tournament with a score 143 points narrowly edging out fellow Franklin team Flying Lobster who scored 141 points. Both were over twenty points ahead of the third-place team who scored 120 points.
The TechnoTrons also won the Amaze Award. The Amaze Award is presented to a team that has built a competition robot that clearly demonstrated overall quality. A solid mechanical design along with demonstrated robot programming, robustness, strong performance and consistency are key attributes for this award.
The Flying Lobster team brought home hardware winning the Think Award. The Think Award is presented to a team that has developed and effectively used quality programming as part of their strategy to solve the game challenge. The winning team has quality, consistent and successful autonomous mode programs as part of their strategy and team members are able to explain their programming process from the strategy to syntax.
In the Elementary School division, the Ninja Bots were ranked first at the end of the qualifying matches, however fell to seventh in the finals when their teammates robot had technical problems in the match. The Nasa Bots from Challenger ended their day ranked 21st and just missed qualifying for the finals. In the Elementary Schools skills competition, the Ninja Bots finished in second with 132 points and the Nasa Bots finished tenth with 100 points.
The Coach from Thief River Falls Robert Fay was also honored at the State Championship as the MN Vex IQ Mentor of the Year. He was nominated by students, parents, and staff at the three local schools he helps to mentor robotics. The program was started at Challenger 3 years ago and after a successful launch it was expanded to Franklin and St. Bernard’s this last fall. Fay also holds summer camps in the summer as well as after school camps outside of the competition season and even hosted a 33-team tournament this last November at Franklin Middle School.