St. John Automatons 2015
by Coach Mary Jones
The Automatons had a wonderful day at our qualifying event Saturday. The team's spirits were high as the day began. They had worked hard on their project and robot. The practice runs of the robot had been going well. Plus, the kids had gotten a lot of positive responses as they shared their project idea with other groups including members of Bison cleaning company, Mayor Gorman, and the Chamber of Commerce.
The team carried on the tradition, they started last year, of praying before every round. They thanked God for allowing them to enjoy this day together and asked him to allow them to do their best. They also enjoyed the fact the Rock's team, another Bartlesville team, had a pit right next to them. The teams spent a lot of time visiting, playing card games, and sharing ideas between rounds.
The kids felt really good coming out of their Core Values and Project Presentation rounds. They ran into some issues with their robot at Robot Design. The robot was not performing as expected and the kids came back saying it was making an unusual noise. When they got back to their pit, the kids checked all their connections, readjusted their wheels, and reloaded programs. They tested the robot in their hands and on the table. The robot sounded right again so they felt ready for robot performance.
The practice round went pretty well. Some the elements did not work, but it was exciting that the motor made it into the car. The Car Program is the most difficult program the team has accomplished. The program has the robot finding a line on the mat with color sensors; it then follows the line for a certain number of degrees before dropping off the motor. We knew going into competition the robot had a tendency to find the line at the wrong location causing the robot miss the motor compartment. So the kids considered the car program one of their two bonus programs. Unfortunately, this would be the only time the car program worked during the day.
Truck was the team's other bonus program. Truck was challenging because of the number of turns that robot had to make and the fact that the kids had to use an attachment to move another vehicle down a rail to pick up a load. Sometimes the robot performed the program perfectly but, if the robots turns were a little off the robot would get stuck or if the attachment hit the truck wrong the friction against the attachment and the truck was enough to throw the robot off track.
The first real round was fair, some the team's elements worked and others did not. They got compost, but the robot dropped off the octopus and chicken in the wrong location. The robot dropped off the worker at the recycling plant, but failed to bring back the plastic bag. The building was knocked down, but the robot did not bring back salvage. On the way to the car, the robot ran over the chicken causing the robot to turn off the line and truck failed.
Before the second round, the robot runners decided to add a weight block before the robot pulled out salvage because they noticed the robot had jumped a little at that point. The team also decided to skip car and just go for truck. The second round was difficult. The robot missed compost and the animals were dropped off at the wrong location again. The robot brought back the plastic bag, but the worker got pulled out of the recycling area. The building was knocked down but the robot again failed to get salvage and truck did not work.
When the team got back the pit, we heard many of the other teams talking about having similar issues. It seemed many teams were not getting elements they could get on their own mats. Going into round three, the kids decided to undo a small change they had the made the night before and replaced a couple sticks on one attachment hoping it might help them pick up salvage. Round three was the team's best round. Compost and creatures worked perfectly, they delivered the worker the recycling center but missed the plastic bag. They knocked down the building again, but the attachment change did not allow them to pick up salvage. For a little while we thought the robot had found the line for the car but then the robot went past the car and turned a corner. We ran out of time on truck, which not work anyway. The team was disappointed that they had only picked up about half the points they knew they get if the programs worked perfectly.
However, they remained positive about the day. After the final round, the Automatons were ranked 8th out of the 18 teams at the event in robot performance. They had ranked high enough in the game to be legible for the state event. However, knowing that only five teams were going to on to the Oklahoma State Championship, the team felt they were probably not going on this year. Disappointment changed to joy during the awards ceremony when they took 1st place in Project Presentation. As the state announcements were made, the kids cheered for the teams going to state. They were happy for their day buddies as they saw The Rock team called for state. After four of the five teams had been called, the announcer started dragging out the last announcement for effect. When the kids heard team 703, their number, called they went wild cheering with excitement. The team was going to state again.
While the team was still standing around in shock, one of the organizers of the event came up to me handed me the score sheets for the day with the Project Presentation score sheet on the top. It was a perfect score sheet. The judges had given the team the highest possible ranking in every category. I was so excited. I showed the score sheet to the team and told them that today they had nailed Project Presentation. The team's next goal is to do as well as possible at the Oklahoma State Championship.