We assembled to watch the kickoff webcast of the 2010 FIRST Robotics Challenge, routed live by NASA into our K-botics home base at KCVI. Teammates and parents all arrived to socialize and watch the webcast and learn the new game which will consume our lives for the next 6 weeks of Build Season.
Before introducing the new game for 2010, the power players of the FIRST organization were broadcast across the world. Dean Kamen, inventor and co-founder of FIRST, particularly caught my attention as he spoke about the purpose of the entire event.
the FIRST Robotics Competition is not about robots; it is about teaching teens and youth life lessons, educating them in “coopartition” and gracious professionalism.
Woodie Flowers, the other co-founder, noted that in school students normally receive ‘training’ rather than education. Students learn to repeat information rather than use skills to make decisions.
The goal of FIRST is to ‘educate’ us as we learn, hands on, about robotics, competition and teamwork (both within our team and also among rival teams.)
After the speaking came the long-awaited game animation!
The overall idea is similar to soccer, with the following exceptions:
- the field is divided into thirds by ‘bumps’ like speed bumps which can be driven over or under via a tunnel
- there are two towers in the field which the robots will try to hang from at the end of the game.
- there are 3 robots on each team, for a total of 6 robots on the field.
- There are 4 nets
- The game is 2 minutes and 15 seconds long
Scoring is as follows:
- 1 point per ball scored
- 2 points for suspending your robot on the tower at the end of the game
- 3 points for suspending another robot from your robot at the end of the game.
There are also many penalties, for pinning other robots, or other offenses.
We are now making some big decisions: will our robot be…
Offensive or defensive?
Specialized or generalized?
Going over bumps or through tunnels?
To help make decisions we trekked downstairs to the gym to try modeling some situations.
We played a couple rounds, using ourselves as robots and trying out different strategies and robot placements. Our observations definitely helped us make better design decisions.
After eight hours at school on a Saturday we prorogued for the evening.
BUILD SEASON HAS BEGUN!