PHS robotics teams do well in virtual competitions

Posted 5/13/21

Powell High School robotics teams took three top awards in the 2021 FIRST Tech Challenge Wyoming Championships. 

Twenty teams, composed of Wyoming students in grades seven through 12, …

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PHS robotics teams do well in virtual competitions

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Powell High School robotics teams took three top awards in the 2021 FIRST Tech Challenge Wyoming Championships. 

Twenty teams, composed of Wyoming students in grades seven through 12, competed May 1 in the event. The students design, program, and operate robots that perform games, such as picking an item up and moving it to another location. Due to COVID restrictions imposed by the FIRST sponsors, this year’s championships were conducted remotely. 

The Mad Hatters team won the first place Design Award, which is based on the aesthetics and functionality of the robot. The judges said of the Hatters: “Our hats are off to this team for the leap from hand drawn design to a robot that shook the earth and an arm that could grab and wobble. We are thrilled their talents are not kept under their hats.”

Isaac Summers, spokesperson for the Mad Hatters, said the team was really excited to hear they’d won. 

“We were proud that our hard work had paid off and earned us an award,” Summers said. “It was a long season and winning an award made it worth it.”

The RoboPanthers took the third place Design Award.

Meanwhile, Team Radioactive won the first place Motivate Award, which is given for teamwork, gracious professionalism and general enthusiasm.

“Each Friday they trotted to different locations to mentor the younger FLL [First Lego League] team in their community,” the judges said. “All the while, this team glows green when it comes to fundraising and motivating their community.”

Radioactive spokesperson Ethan Bartholomew said the year was particularly challenging for the entire robotics club, as they put in just as much work as any year, but didn’t get to travel to the normal competition. Nonetheless, Bartholomew said the Radioactive Team was happy with how well they did in the competition. 

“We are all very grateful for the opportunity to participate in the First Tech Challenge,” Bartholomew said. 

Team Squiggle Splat Bang won first place in the Collins Aerospace Innovative Award, which goes to a team that shows the most ingenuity, creativity and inventiveness in their designs.

“Their robot innovation made a splash not a splat,” the judges said of the team. 

The Mad Hatters took the second place innovative award. 

The RoboPanthers took the second place Control Arm Award, which recognizes the teams that demonstrate innovative thinking to solve game challenges, such as autonomous operation, improving mechanical systems with intelligent control, or using sensors to achieve better results. Mad Hatters went home with the third place Control Arm Award, and they had the second place Connect Award, which recognizes a team’s engagement with the local science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) community.  

Overall, Radioactive was ranked fourth in the competition, the Mad Hatters ranked fifth, and Squiggle Splat Bang came in sixth. 

Powell High School math and technology teacher and robotics coach Joel Hayano said that, despite the restrictions on the competitions, the kids were in good spirits. 

“It was a long season and we were proud that our teams stuck it out over the last nine months,” Hayano said. “We would like to thank the community for supporting us during this unconventional year.”

“We hope that next year returns to normal,” he added.

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