by Jennifer Li
Wilson Beacon staff writer
During March 29-31, 63 different high school teams gathered in the Convention Center in downtown D.C. to play a game of basketball for the D.C. Regional FIRST Robotics Competition.
Except the students weren’t the ones playing – the robots that they had created were actually playing the game. This year, the Wilson High School Tiger Pride robotics team 2914 became the first team from the District to win the D.C. Regional.
So how does the competition work? Three school teams join together to form the Blue Alliance, while three others form the Red Alliance. On the basketball court, there are six robots (three per alliance), and each alliance tries to manipulate their robots to score as many points as possible in the autonomous period. During this time, which lasts two minutes and 15 seconds, the pre-programmed robots shoot basketball hoops by themselves.
The coach of the Wilson robotics team, Ms. Benjamin, who has been coaching the team for four years, said that Wilson’s robot would score “at least 60% of the time”. Baskets are worth one, two, or three points, depending on the height of the goal. In the last minute of the match, also known as the end game, the robots attempt to balance on bridges that look like a seesaw, located at the middle of the field. If their robots can balance on one of these ramps, they are awarded bonus points.
On the second day of the event, Wilson’s team was ranked 23rd, and hoped to be selected to join one of the eight alliances that played in the tournament rounds. As the top eight alliances were choosing their third team, Wilson’s defensive robot was chosen to join the No. 2-seeded alliance team 467 from Massachusetts, along with team 357 from Pennsylvania. In these rounds, the best two out of three matches would be selected to play in the finals. During these matches, Wilson’s robot experienced a bent axle. However, the students were able to replace the axle quickly, and were able to advance to the finals.
Keep an eye on red robot 2914:
In the finals, Wilson’s alliance won two of the matches in a row, making Wilson’s team a historic FIRST-time victory. This win led them to compete in the World Championships in St. Louis, Missouri.
Ari Taske, a junior who is the driver and engineer of the team, described the D.C. event as “competitive, friendly, and fun” with “mobs of people dancing, and cheering for either the Blue or Red Alliance.”
The Wilson team has been competing for four years, and in those years, the team name has changed from Titanium Tigers, Wilson Tyborgers, to Wilson Tiger Pride. The team meets every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, from 3:30 p.m. until anywhere from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Reprinted from the June 5, 2012 issue of the Woodrow Wilson High School Beacon. Wilson’s student newspaper is published nine times a school year, August through June, and can be sent via email to subscribers for a suggested yearly donation of $25.00. For information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.