By Wendy Hayworth
St. Louis played host to the annual FIRST Robotics World Championship last weekend. Four hundred teams and over 12,000 students from all over the world filled the Edward Jones Dome.
The teams were split into four divisions: Archimedes, Curie, Galileo, and Newton. The algorithm used to create these divisions remains a secret.
Lee’s Summit High School’s Team Driven 1730 was placed in the Galileo Division; and Lee’s Summit West High School’s Team Titanium 1986 was placed in the Newton Division.
Teams began arriving on Wednesday, April 23. Once they arrived their robot had to pass inspection before the team could enter at 5 p.m. When they did, they hit the ground running.
"We were on the practice field by 6," Team Driven teacher sponsor Jim Nazworth said. "We were out in the main arena for a practice match on the main field at 7:30."
Qualifying matches began early that next morning. Team Driven went undefeated until their last match on Saturday morning, seeding third in their division. Team Titanium overcame their two losses on the first day, winning their last qualifiers, and seeding sixth in Newton.
"The competition is tough. Everyone is the best of the best," Nazworthy said.
Both teams won their quarterfinals two to one. Team Titanium suffered a broken drive train and had to drop out of the semifinals.
"One of the gears got stripped," Team Titanium sophomore Jessie Kuse said. "It was kind of disappointing."
Team Driven won one of their three semifinal matches, ending their competition that weekend.
Eight awards were given in each division to teams that were deemed to excel in the robotics world. Team Driven won the Quality Award sponsored by Motorola for machine and team robustness. Team Titanium took home the Industrial Design Award sponsored by General Motors for their efficiency in design and ability to address the challenges of the game.
"There were a total of about 24 awards given away at the World Championships. The fact that Lee’s Summit teams pulled down two of those and made it all the way to the Sweet 16 (semifinals) in two different divisions, I mean Lee’s Summit is a powerhouse when it comes to robotics," Nazworthy said.
The weekend was about more than just robots. Teams from all over the world formed bonds and traded t-shirts.
"We were all kind of blown away. The Israeli teams there really loved us and said that we were kind of their heroes over in Israel," Kuse said. "It was really neat to meet all sorts of people from different countries. A lot of the team got to do that and we traded t-shirts with them."
Members from both teams were lending a hand to any team in need including each other. Even though Lee’s Summit North Broncobots 1987 did not make it to the World Championships to compete, many members of the team attended to enjoy the high energy of thousands of kids excited about robots.
"I really want to say thank you to Lee’s Summit for the way that they supported robotics. Not just Lee’s Summit but Lee’s Summit West and Lee’s Summit North," Nazworthy said. "I mean we’re just so lucky to be where we are."
With the season over, both teams are changing their focus to their upcoming summer camps. Team Driven will be hosting six robotics camps and 15 app building camps. The schedules and more information can be found at http://camp.teamdriven.us and www.kcpowersource.com respectively.
Team Titanium is hosting seven camps and workshops this summer. More information and schedules can be found at http://www.teamtitanium.org/#!camps/c1udv.