Saturday at Pittsburgh


It was an early rainy start to the day.  We packed all our possessions on the bus and headed to the arena to get our seats and start work in the pits.  We had done a bit of home bumper repair over the evening, but happily everything else seemed to be in good working order after a day of tough competition.

In the stands

We welcome all of you to come to the Greater Toronto Regional (GTR) competition on April 1-3 either in person or through the webcast events.  It is an exciting event to see live!

We busied ourselves with part of our communication strategy–writing post cards to send to our sponsors and mentors thanking them for their support.  It is so important to thank our sponsors for giving us the resources to enter such an impressive tournament.

We spent the morning scouting the remaining seeding matches, and refining the list of favoured alliance partners.  Scouting is key at competitions.  It is so important to get good stats for all the robots to determine which robots would partner well with our strengths and strategies.  This year our scouting process is much more efficient now that we have a slightly larger team, and now that we are not rookies anymore.

While we are in the stands we get to know the supporters of the other teams, and have an opportunity to make friends and connections with people that we may see again at other regionals, or next year at the same regional competition.  We make sure that we are kind and cooperative to those in the stands with us, and that we cheer positively for all teams.

This year we have some pretty enthusiastic dancers in our group, and during the field delays we were out there busting a move to the hokey-pokey, the chicken dance, the Macarena, YMCA and the Cupid Shuffle.  We think a pre GTR dance lesson might be in order to get us all moving in time to the music.

In the Pits

The pit is a loud place where everyone is focused on repairing their robots, or those of their alliance partners.  Each team gets a 10 foot by 10 foot area to work in, and many have displays up as well as their tools and programming stations.  Teams showcase a bit of their personality in their pit area.  It becomes home base for the pit crew and the drive team between matches.

When a match is completed, the drive team brings the robot back to the pits where the pit crew is waiting to help out.  Batteries are changed, the robot is inspected, the system retested, and it is reprogrammed as necessary.  Everyone has a job to do, and we are learning how to work quickly and efficiently to get everything accomplished before we need to get back on the field.

Thankfully there were no major repairs to mechanical parts on our robot over the entire regional.  Things were improved upon, and programming was tested and tweaked between matches.

While we work, judges are also walking around talking to teams, asking technical questions, and questions about the team in general.  Our pit crew not only needs to be able to fix a robot, but they need to be able to represent us well to the judges.  We have a lot of rookies on our team this year, and everyone is working to improve our presentation skills and our efficiency in the pit.

Although we are involved in a competition, the pits are an area where we can see cooperation shine.  Tools are exchanged, teams help each other fix parts and pass inspection.  Teams get to know each other, and get to see how others work under pressure.  We are grateful to some other teams for lending us tools that we needed, and we were glad to be able to lend tools to others.  We could see gracious professionalism all around us in the pit area.

Behind The Scenes

Early in the morning mentors and students who were involved in scouting started to meet with other teams to discuss alliance strategy.  Teams that are in a position to pick their alliances start to get approached in the stands and in the pit to begin strategic negotiations.  We were in such a position, and our scouts did a good job networking with teams we knew in the stands, and others in the pit.  It is the scouts that are equipped with all of the information needed since many of the drive teams had to go to bed before the end of the strategy meetings.

On the Field

Early in the morning we played our final seeding matches.  We won the first three:5-0, 3-1, and 8-7.  In the next match we maximized our qualification ranking points with a loss of 15-1.   A small problem with an ethernet cable left us stationary for the next game, which our alliance tied 1-1, but we had that problem sorted out by the next game which we won 13-3.

Our over all statistics were: 7 wins, 2 losses, and 3 ties

To start the elimination rounds, permanent alliances are chosen by a serpentine draft.  The 8 teams with the most qualification points are captains, and starting with captain of alliance 1, they choose their first round draft picks.  Alliance 8 gets to start the second round draft picks, which goes in reverse order leaving alliance 1 the final choice of the draft.

We finished the competition as one of the teams in picking position, and ended up as the 5th alliance captain.  We were excited to choose teams 2614 MARS and 2641 the Vikings to be our alliance partners.

Here you can see some of the quarterfinal action, a little dancing, and the drama of our semi final play. (note: video clip is over one hour in length)

Our Robot in Action!

In the afternoon we played in the quarter finals which is a best of 3 competition.  Our first match was a 7-7 tie, we later won 7-3, then again we won 7-1, which sent us on to the dramatic semi finals against the first seed 1114 alliance.  Our first match was plagued with a field error on the automatic scoring system.  We were playing well, but our score suddenly started dropping as the game progressed.  The field was re-set, but we lost the replay of that match 9-2.

The second match in the semis was played strategically very well, and if it weren’t for a controversial red card by one of our alliance partners we would have beaten the first seed, team 1114’s alliance with a score of 6-4 and challenged them one more time to move on to the finals.  The red card, however, led to our entire team’s disqualification.  It was a tough way to be eliminated from competition, but we are extremely proud of how well we played.  It is a promising start to our competition season.

At FIRST, volunteers of all kinds are recognized for their hard work.  Our mentors participated in the mentor parade with high fives all around.

At the end of the tournament we took pictures on the field, proud of all our accomplishments, and ready to take on the Toronto Regional!

On the Bus

The bus got all packed up after the closing awards ceremonies and we set off for home.  Some of us were discussing robot modifications, and what we can improve upon for our next competition.  We were all talking about the fun we had, and the fun that we would have at GTR.

We started what might become a new team tradition:  The Bagel Awards. There were bagels left over from our team breakfasts so the mentors strung them up and gave them out as medals to our team.  Some of the awards were:  The Rookie of The Tournament, The Blue Bear Award for showing the values of KCVI, The Scouting Award, The Best Imitation of an Animated Character Award for Henry in his robot hat looking like Dr. Zoidberg. There were awards for dancing, and awards for being very social.  There were awards for other silly things too.  Every team member got a bagel award, and then we all ate our bagels.  After the awards, some of us tried to sleep, some of us watched a movie, and later others tried to have a bit of a dance party to “Party in the USA” while we were still in the states.

Once back in Canada we cracked open our glowsticks and turned up the music for what is becoming a bit of a 2809 tradition….a bus rave!  It was a great way to burn off some adrenaline and it looks really cool!  Thanks very much to our driver for allowing us to turn up the music and celebrate.

We arrived back to KCVI at 2:30 AM brought all of our competition gear into the school, set our watches forward an hour–daylight savings time is here–and headed home for a good sleep.  It’s March Break for us, but we will still be working on robots, and dreaming of robots until our next team meeting.

We hope to see you in Toronto on April 1-3 cheering us on in our next competition

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2 Responses to Saturday at Pittsburgh

  1. Momo says:

    Congratulations to everyone on the team–that’s a fantastic result, AWESOME looking bot, and outstanding performance! Can’t wait to see the competition at GTR… any chance of the robot hanging off structures by then?

  2. Pingback: Story Time «

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