A Layperson Attends the Robotics Tournament
Alex Boggs, Staff Writer
On Saturday, January 19, CCS hosted a robotics tournament. Even though I had no clue what it would be like, I decided to go. It was not only fun, but it also taught me three life lessons along the way.
1: Controlled chaos is effective
While I have always believed this regarding my organizational system, this tournament cemented my belief in the value of controlled chaos. When the first round began, four teams were sent to the field, two to the red side and two to the blue side. It took me at least three rounds to realize that instead of one robot being against all three of the others, it was just the red team versus the blue team.
Once this confusion was over, it took me a few more rounds to understand what happened at the beginning of each round. Before the actual round, there is an autonomous bonus round. This round is an additional fifteen seconds for the teams to try and score points before the actual game. Whichever team gets the most points in the time wins the bonus, which is an additional four points to their overall score. The object of the game is to score the most points, so these points are valuable, especially when games are tight. This bonus became more and more important as the tournament progressed.
The most overwhelming controlled chaos was trying to count up the points. There are numerous ways to get points in the game. There are disks that a robot can flip over for one point. These disks can also be put up on a post for two points. There are flags that can be moved for one or two points. All of these are great, but the real points are in the parking. There are three levels that a robot can park on. The top spot is worth six points, while the lower two are worth four.
Even though this is clear now, while watching the robots go everywhere from wall to wall in the arena it was less than clear. When the round started, I had no idea where to look because there were so many things going on. Robots were ramming recklessly into the walls, running into each other, and occasionally knocking each other over. The round was chaotic, but the true chaos began when the officials were trying to tally the points. It was funny, actually, because the teams would be standing there, trying to look and see who won. I don’t know if they knew, but I certainly didn’t.
2: Every second counts
At the end of each round, the team would take their robot from the field, and instead of just waiting for their next game, they would tinker with it. They would go find an area out of the way, sit on the floor in a circle around the robot, and perfect it. I was surprised because even though they were done competing for the moment they attentively and intensely worked to make improvements to their robots. They were dedicated and hard working. It was amazing to see this, especially in a time where it seemed like there was nothing to be done.
However, boredom was not an issue for any of the teams. It seemed like they actually did not have enough time to fix their robots. They squeezed the most they could from each second between rounds, even though this meant that they sometimes were late showing up to the next round. Their work ethic was inspiring because they truly used every single second.
3: Problem-solving is important
Not only did teams use their time well between rounds, but they also maximized their resources. I saw one team member make a mad dash somewhere, and I was wondering where the fire was, but a few minutes later they came back with a few rubber bands. I was perplexed at why they ran that fast for rubber bands, and what they expected to do with a few seemingly unimportant rubber bands. I don’t know exactly what they ended up doing with them, but they used them to fix something on their robot. It seemed the next round that their robot worked better than before, so it seemed like the rubber bands worked. This team was able to solve a problem in a time crunch with only a few rubber bands. It was amazing to see the high level of effective problem solving displayed in this tournament, and I hope to develop those skills in my life.
Even though the robotics tournament was an extremely new and different experience, and it was definitely worth it. It was fun to watch something so different and chaotic and try to make sense of it. It was also interesting because I didn’t know anything about robotics, but here were these friends of mine who possessed all of this technical acumen and knew how to create something that moved and accomplished tasks. I had seen the robotics practices sometimes after school, but I never knew what all went into it or what exactly the robots needed to do. After seeing just this glimpse, robotics captivated me and I now think even more highly of the students that participate in this club. If you want to go out and support this club, their final local league tournament will be at CCS on Tuesday, February 12, from 6-8.