From the moment the 2019 game for the FTC season, FIRST Rise, was revealed in September, our middle school FTC students were excited to take on the challenge of moving “stones” and building skyscrapers with those stones. As the build season progressed, students on Code Red’s two FTC teams designed and built a robot that could efficiently grab stones, raise them high to build a strong tower, and move the building pad for additional points in the game. Additionally, students working with mentors created and assembled their Engineering Notebook and practiced for presentations.
Both FTC teams had their first competition at East Kentwood High School. After qualification matches, team #5384, Emergency Situation, was ranked #5 and team #5383, Neutrinos Breaking the Laws of Physics, was ranked #10. Both teams were selected for alliances in the playoffs where team #5384 made it to the semi-finals and team #5383 made it to the finals. The Neutrinos (5383), were not able to pull off the win, but ended up as finalists in the event, coming in second place. With the successes and lessons learned at this first event, the teams were ready for their second event.
The Richland Event at Gull Lake High School was the second event for Code Red’s two FTC teams. While the teams had a tougher time during qualification matches with #5383 ranked #33 and #5384 ranked #22, they were both selected for alliances in the playoffs. Once again, Emergency Situation (#5384) made it to the semi-finals and Neutrinos (#5383) made it to the finals. After two final matches played, Neutrinos came out the winners of the event! This win qualified them for the State Championship. The day was topped off with Emergency Situation winning the Connect Award and Neutrinos winning a Connect Award Finalist.
The season was not yet finished for FTC #5383, Neutrinos. They competed at the State Championship in the Edison Division. After qualification matches, the team was ranked #11, and they were selected to be part of the #1 alliance during alliance selection. The team’s robot performed well through the playoffs as they made it to the finals. There the season ended with a second place finish in the finals. Considering the level of competition and number of teams competing, the team felt proud of their performance and results.
Looking back at the season, students and mentors both agreed that we had a solid robot design and that reflected in the success of the season. Much was learned, and much fun was had in the process.
With an ever growing number of FRC teams in West Michigan, there is a need for information and training about all things FIRST and robotics for these area teams. To fulfill that need, a group of eight area FIRST Robotics Competition teams partnered together on October 26, 2019, to run the 2nd Annual Fall Robotics Workshop. The event took place at Grand Valley State University’s Kennedy Hall of Engineering. Each team presented at least one workshop; some workshops were one hour workshop repeated throughout the day while others offered a beginner and advanced version of the topic. Topics offered were: Kickoff and Brainstorming, FIRST Information, Running Effective Team Meetings, Team Safety, Chairman’s Chat, CAD, Electrical, Pneumatics, Manipulator Types, Labview, Game Strategy, Scouting Data and Analysis, and Writing College and Scholarship Application Essays. Code Red Robotics led the workshops on Kickoff and College/Scholarship Essays. Over 250 students from all over Michigan attended the Fall Robotics Workshop in 2019, an increase from the first one in 2018. Passing along information and assistance to mentors and students from other teams was a rewarding experience, but probably even more rewarding was the opportunity to network and share ideas.
In the fall of 2019, it was time for another exciting season of NRG. At the first meeting, we revealed our newest game; CITY CLEANUP, designed, developed, and built by our FRC students. The season runs from September to October, meeting once a week to build Arduino robots and play games to learn teamwork. The goal of this year’s game was to push pieces of PVC (called scrap metal) up, into, and under ramps (into the Recycling bin, Reusing facility, and Repurposing Shop) for points. The NRG students enjoyed the challenge of maneuvering through an obstacle course, multiple ways to score, and completing the end game task off placing a “bush” large plastic ball) on top of the recycling bin. The high school students had the experience of brainstorming a game, troubleshooting it, working out the rules and penalties, building a field and game pieces, and writing a game manual. During the six team sessions, 4th-6th grade students began the evening by playing team building or engineering games such as “Moving marbles” and an Engineering Escape Room. After team building time, first year students worked on building their robots and learning how to drive them. Second year students learned some basic programming with the goal of creating a program that would make their robots finish an autonomous obstacle course. At the end of the six weeks, FRC students ran a full competition with live scoring, qualification and final matches, and an award ceremony. We had 25 students and 13 of them were 2nd and 3rd year students.
In June of 2019, Code Red ran our 5th annual NRG summer camp for students in grades 4-6. For one week, students built their own robots, learned how to program them, and practiced driving to play our 2018 Game: NRG LIFTOFF. This year’s summer camp took place at Byron Center Countryside Elementary school for 5 days. We had 25 students this year who enjoyed learning how to build and program their own robots then play in the tournament. We played fun team building games throughout the week, such as a balloon animal balloon tower building contest, “Lava Pit”, and “Think Like a Robot”. During these games, kids learn teamwork and take a break from all that hard work building robots. On the 5th day Code Red’s FRC students ran a competition complete with referees, qualification matches, and finals. They also designed and produced original software to run the scoring of the event. It was a successful week with several of the students excited to return for another season of NRG in the fall.