Monday, May 19, 2014


On May 17, Williams Arena was the site of the 2014 Minnesota F.I.R.S.T. (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) State Robotics Tournament. This is the third year of the state tournament of Robotics.

According to the U.S. F.I.R.S.T. Web site: “FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology.” Based in Manchester, NH, the 501c not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.” “The qualified teams represent the top 30 Minnesota teams from various FIRST® regional competitions. Minnesota had the third largest FIRST® Robotics Competition state contingent in the nation in 2013 with 180 teams, and for 2014 that number jumped to 207 teams.

Here is an alphabetic list of the 30 qualified teams, preceded by each team's FIRST®-designated number: 3313 Alexandria; 4607 Becker; 2181 Blaine; 2498 The Blake School, Minneapolis; 4778 Chanhassen; 4009 Duluth Denfeld; 2512 Duluth East; 2502 Eden Prairie; 1816 Edina; 3293 Fergus Falls; 4539 Frazee; 2227 Fridley; 5172 Greenbush-Middle River; 2052 Irondale, New Brighton; 4845 Lakeview Christian Academy, Duluth; 2175 Math and Science Academy; 3926 Mounds Park Academy, St. Paul; 3102 Nevis; 3038 Chisago Lakes/North Branch; 5290 North Lakes Academy, Forest Lake; 4624 Owatonna; 3883 Park, Cottage Grove; 2169 Prior Lake/Savage; 2530 Rochester; 4536 St. Paul Central; 3202 St. Paul Harding; 3018 St. Peter/Mankato/Crystal Lake; 3007 Tartan, Oakdale; 3277 Thief River Falls; and 4656 Two Harbors.”

Each team played 9 matches. According to “In the game, the alliances win via getting the scoring elements (2'-diameter exercise balls) into the scoring areas located on the far end of the field. The game starts with each robots in either the White Zone (center field) or the goalie zones. They can be preloaded with 1 game ball prior to the start. The match begins with a 10-second autonomous period, where robots use the pre-programmed instructions to score points. Said points are worth 5 more during the Autonomous period, and one goal will be lit up ("hot") during each half. That goal is worth 5 additional points, for a maximum total of a 10 point bonus. In addition, every robot that moves from the center to their own side of the field earns another five point bonus. When Tele-op starts, the teams take control of their respective robots. The cycle starts when a human player transfers a ball onto the playing field. The robots can then do either the basic goal score (take the ball to the other end of the field), or assist them in doing so. The recipient of the latter will earn bonus points (2 assists=10 points, 3 assists=30 points). Throwing the ball over the truss (the midpoint overhang) when transferring, a la volleyball, will add 10 additional points. Having an alliance partner catch it will earn 10 more points. A robot in the goalie zones can block shots via extending upwards.

There are six robots are on the playing floor at one time. Each team is placed in an Alliance and each alliance comprised of three teams. The teams didn’t know going into the tournament who they were going to be teamed up with. There was a meeting where they picked their alliances.

The top 12 teams made it to the made it to the semifinals. Then each alliance went at it again for the semifinal round.

After the semifinal rounds the bottom six teams went on to play a third place match and the top six teams played for the championships.

The alliance made from Match and Science Academy, Irondale and Chanhassen won the 2014 MSHSL State Robotics state championship.


According to a press release from the Minnesota State High School League, “Exercise balls to be launched, caught and scored in the 2014 game. Exercise balls about two feet in diameter will be launched, caught and scored at Williams Arena on Saturday, May 17, with the action undertaken by robots designed, built and controlled by 30 teams of Minnesota high school students.

The Minnesota State Robotics Tournament is in its third year and was the first of its kind in the nation sponsored by a high school activities association. It will be conducted on the famous raised floor of “The Barn.” Students on 30 teams throughout Minnesota will compete to claim the state championship.”

The qualified teams represent the top 30 Minnesota teams from various FIRST® regional competitions. Minnesota had the third largest FIRST® Robotics Competition state contingent in the nation in 2013 with 180 teams, and for 2014 that number jumped to 207 teams.

Admission to the tournament is free. The schedule: Opening Ceremonies at 8:30 a.m.; Qualification Matches involving randomly drawn alliances from 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 2:45 p.m.; Semifinals, Third Place and Championship matches in best 2-out-of-3 competition involving the top four qualifying teams that choose their own alliance partners begin at 3:15 p.m.; Awards will be presented at about 4:30 p.m”.

Last year I went and covered the event and everyone had a good time. You can watch the students work on their Robots and talk to them about making them.