Northampton Public Schools Superintendent Blog

Northampton Brobotics Seeded 3rd After Qualifying Rounds!

Posted on: April 5, 2012

Congratulations to all the members of the “Northampton Brobotics” team for their very impressive Rookie performance at the Worcester Regional FIRST Robotics Competition held March 8-10, 2012!!  A tremendous “Thank You” goes out to our sponsors – jcpenney, GE Healthcare, UTC, and the Northampton Education Foundation – and to our mentors and our teacher, parent and other volunteers for providing this opportunity.  A special thanks also to our extremely helpful “senior mentor,” Dana Henry, from the Agawam team “Rosie Robotics,” for his gracious professionalism and assistance helping Ms. Amy Johnson in her first year as “Coach.”

After one full day (Thursday) in Worcester of practice, inspection, repairs, re-inspection, practice, etc., the team (and its robot, “Paul”) competed for a day and a half in an intense series of 14 “matches.”  For each match, “Paul” joined 2 other robots on the floor, playing with and against an Alliance of 3 other robots.  The composition of each 3-team Alliance rotated throughout the series, so that “Paul” and the team needed to cooperate and play as a team with the same robots and teams that had been or would become competitors!

During Friday’s competitions, Northampton Brobotics received a Safety Merit Point for maintaining a safe working area.  Friday evening, about 2/3 of the way through the qualification matches, the team was awarded the prestigious Rookie Inspiration Award.  Saturday, they were recognized again with the Highest Rookie Seed Award – they were the 3rd-top-seeded team out of the 35 or 36 teams participating!!!

In preparation for this 3-day Regional Competition, the individuals went:

  • from curiosity and near-complete bafflement in the Fall,
  • through weekly generic training sessions in woodshop, machine shop, electronics, project planning, & computer-assisted design, to acquire a baseline set of skills,
  • into the intense 6-week design-build-trial-fix-retest period.

These students then competed with and against teams from all of the New England states, plus New York and Great Britain, in a sometimes nerve-wracking series of “trial & error & troubleshoot & repair & play again matches,” fighting, befriending, competing and cooperating against and with many of the other teams and robots, and developing along the way into a true Team, all while improvising, troubleshooting, repairing and improving “Paul”.

In addition to the exhilaration of placing 3rd in these preliminary rounds (from a field of 35 or 36 teams, 1 of which has twice been world champion!), this placement earned the team the privilege of being in an excellent position to invite/ be invited by teams to join as Alliance partners for Saturday afternoon’s final elimination matches, and earned the Northampton Brobotics team the Highest Rookie Top Seed Award, and put the team in the running to become eligible  for the National Championships in April in St. Louis.  A once-remote possibility suddenly looked entirely possible!

Well-coached by their experienced Hampshire College mentors and their Rookie engineer mentors, the Team members had already become busy “scouting” the other teams and their robots, strategizing among possibilities for selecting and/or being selected by other teams in preparation for forming the final 3-team Alliance for Saturday afternoon’s elimination matches.

The Northampton Brobotics Alliance Team was subsequently eliminated during the best-of-3 series of final matches Saturday afternoon; they are looking forward to next year’s challenges and opportunities.

Best quotes:

“You’re not building a robot, you’re building people.” – Lynn Henry, Rosie’s Robots

“A.P. schmay-pee; that’s just a test, this is an experience.” – Amy Johnson, AP Physics teacher and FIRST Coach

“We’re the A-Rod of Robots.” – Jacob Black, team member, upon returning to NHS from the Worcester Regional Competition

“I wish we were still there.” – Rachel, back in school Monday morning

Rookie Inspiration Award:  This award celebrates a rookie team’s outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering and engineers both within their school, as well as in their community.

Highest Rookie Seed Award:  This award celebrates the highest-seeded rookie team at the conclusion of the qualifying rounds.

Submitted by Barbara Lamay, NHS ESP and “Guest Blogger”

Please tune in to the April 12th School Committee meeting to meet “Paul the Robot” and see him in action.  The Brobotics Team will be there to speak about their experience and share the following slide show.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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