A very VEXing day
By Thomas N.
Photos by Thomas N. unless otherwise noted.
Twenty-nine teams from across Colorado and three teams from Iowa and one from Nebraska battled in a competition of robotic engineering and strategy at Berthoud High School on February 5. The event was the 2011 Colorado VEX Robotics Championship. The game was VEX Round Up, and the prize was a chance to compete at the VEX Robotics World Championship in Florida. Each competing team is made-up of either three middle school or high school students; two drivers that control the robot and the team’s coach.
VEX Round Up is played by two alliances of two teams each; one alliance is red, one is blue. Each alliance attempts to control and program their robot to move small donut-like tubes and place them on goal posts. There is also a ladder in which the robots can hang-from to gain more points. Points are given to teams for their accomplishments and the teams with the most points advance in the competition.
The VEX Round Up is divided into two sections; one section that is autonomous, pre-programmed controlled, and the second section is where the team drivers control the robot. The autonomous portion was 20 seconds in length where the teams programming skills were tested. The robots must move based on pre-programmed commands. During the driver-controlled portion of the Round Up, the robots attempt to maneuver in the arena for two minutes while they place their donut-tubes on posts and remove the other team’s tubes from their goal posts.
The teams competed in multiple matches while the first three hours of competition was made up of 42 qualifying rounds. During this time, teams could also compete in two challenges, the programming skills challenge and the driver skill challenge. The eleven teams with the most wins in the qualifying rounds advance to the alliance selection where they chose two ally teams to help them during the difficult elimination tournament that follows. After the teams select their alliances, the final stage of the robotics competition begins; a three-round elimination tournament.
The final round of the final tournament was: Red Alliance – Geared for War from Lutheran High School in Parker Colorado, TECHNA PWN ROBOTICS from Council Bluffs Iowa home school students, and Perpetual Motion Squad from Papillion Nebraska. These allies took on the Blue Alliance – TBD from Berthoud, Vextes Robotics from Estes Park, and CasaVEX from Longmont. After three hard-fought robotically bloody (loosing a battery is equivalent to the robot’s heart) the Red Alliance featuring teams: Lutheran High School, Iowa’s proud home-schooled students and the Perpetual Motion Squad from Nebraska were victorious.
After the tournament ended the award ceremony began where several awards were presented. The Programming Skills Challenge Second Place award was given to: The FUSE from Faith Christian Academy team. The Driver Skills Second Place went to Schattengeist from Berthoud High School’s team. The Programming Skills First Place and Driver Skills First Place awards both went to the TECHNA PWN ROBOTICS team. The red-winning alliance and blue-runner-up alliance from the final round of the tournament were awarded Tournament Champion and Tournament Finalist. The Judges Award went to Cyber Domination from Berthoud High School. TBD from Berthoud and The Fuse team from Faith Christian Academy of Arvada won the Excellence Awards, the top awards of the robotics event recognizing both on-field performance and judging.
Dignitaries from Thompson School District attending the event included three School Board members, Superintendant Dr. Cabrera, and Deputy Superintendant Dr. Skupa. School Board Chairman Lucille Steiner, who also volunteered at the event, said, “I enjoy volunteering at these events because it gives me the opportunity to interact with the students.” Retired BHS principal and current School Board member Len Sherman was pleased to see five Berthoud teams competing. Lola Johnson stopped by with her husband in a show of support for the district teams.
“It was fun to see the teams helping each other and the camaraderie among the volunteers, many from Woodward who continues to support robotics in Northern Colorado. As hard as it was to watch some of the top trophies go out of state, the teams really earned them and graciously stayed and helped us clean up and load out until the last door closed,” said Liz Rayment, Thompson Robotics Coordinator.
There was food for sale at the event which helped feed the 33 teams; twice as many teams than at last years competition. The 2011 Colorado VEX Robotics Championship was a great time for competitors and robot enthusiasts alike. The following groups helped make this competition possible:
- Career and Technical Training