The Black & White

Robotics competition season finishes with district tournaments

By Jessica Buxbaum

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Whitman’s robotics team, The Body Electric, competed in district tournaments March 9-11 and March 16-18, but was unable to secure enough points to advance to district championships, marking the end of their competition season.

The team struggled at their March 9 tournament and didn’t move on past the qualifying round due to a broken piece motor. But by March 16, their robot was ready for action. After winning seven of their 12 matches in qualifiers, they advanced to quarterfinals, where they lost 21.

Each year, FIRST Robotics announces particular challenges that teams will have to complete in tournaments. For six weeks, teams around the country work to design, build and program a robot that will perform the desired tasks. This year’s challenge, Power Up, included games designed to resemble live-action video games.

To qualify for championships, teams needed 50 points, which they gain by winning matches and completing tasks, but the team had lost too much ground in the first tournament to recover from their deficit.

Despite not qualifying for district championships, team members were happy with their results and proud of the work they did this season.

“It’s always a lot of work, but we went for a really complicated design this year,” programming head Raffi Metz said. “So seeing everyone get on board with tackling these really difficult problems was a lot of fun. And then seeing the robot compete and seeing it do everything that you had programmed it to do—there’s nothing like it.”

Design head Jonah Mendel, a junior, was particularly happy with the way the underclassmen grew, and he has high hopes for their contributions next year.

“We have a really young team,” Mendel said. “So watching them get better and get more comfortable was really cool. They probably don’t even realize, but by the end of the season, they were much faster at solving problems and we were comfortable giving them more complicated tasks for them to tackle on their own.”

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