Thursday, June 25, 2015


On April 15, robots took over Williams Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota for the third annual Minnesota State High School League US FIRST State Robotics tournament. According to a press release that was sent out by the MSHSL about this year’s event, Recycle Rush is the name of the game, the same game that robotics teams throughout the country and world played this year. Designed and managed by FIRST®, — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology — the game involves two competing alliances of three teams attempting to stack totes on scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers, and properly disposing of pool noodles using their remote-controlled robots they designed and built.

Each alliance competes on their respective 26 ft. by 27 ft. side of the playing field. The matches begin with a 15-second autonomous period in which the robots operate independently of drivers. During this period, robots attempt to earn points by moving themselves, their yellow totes, and their recycling containers into an area between the scoring platforms called the Auto Zone.

During the remaining two minutes and 15 seconds of the match, called the Teleop period, robots are controlled remotely by student drivers located behind the walls at the ends of the field. Teams on an Alliance work together to place as many totes on their white scoring platforms as possible. Alliances earn additional points for recycling containers placed on the second totes, with containers at greater heights earning more points.

Alliances also earn points for disposing of their litter in their Landfill Zone near the center of the field, or placing litter in or on recycling containers. Alliances that leave litter unprocessed on their side of the field at the end of the match, not in scoring position, will add points to the score of the other Alliance.

Here is an alphabetic list of the 30 qualified teams, preceded by each team’s FIRST®-designated number: 3313 Alexandria Area; 2667 Apple Valley; 3059 Austin; 5253 Bigfork; 2181 Blaine; 4859 Byron; 2472 Centennial, Circle Pines; 4778 Chanhassen; 4009 Duluth Denfeld; 2512 Duluth East; 3130 East Ridge, Woodbury; 1816 Edina; 5434 Faribault; 3293 Fergus Falls; 4539 Frazee-Vergas; 5172 Greenbush-Middle River; 5232 Hermantown; 2052 Irondale, New Brighton; 5638 Lac qui Parle Valley, Madison; 2526 Maple Grove; 3276 New London-Spicer; 5626 Norwood-Young America; 4624 Owatonna; 2530 Rochester; 3299 Southwest Christian, Chaska; 4536 St. Paul Central; 3007 Tartan, Oakdale; 4215 Trinity School at River Ridge, Eagan; 4198 Waconia; and 2883 Warroad.

Each Alliance consists of three different robots and there were six different robots on the playing surface at one time. There were 40 qualifying rounds.

In the Sports Pavilion which was nicked named “The Pit” each team was able to set up a table and have a booth and an area where they were able to work on their robots before their matches and afterwards.

Also in “The Pit” there were videos playing on the screen highlighting different events from earlier in the year.

Once again overall I thought that the State Robotic tournament went well. I thought the students did a great job at building their robots and competing. I also thought that there was a lot of positive energy shown by the students. Students were up out of their chairs dancing while music was playing over the loud speakers.

Robotics is really a team competition. Another interesting aspect of the event was each team had their own flag. The flag usually had the team name and number on it. At the beginning of the season each school that competes is assigned a number. That number is used throughout the season.

After the preliminary rounds the top four teams each picked three other teams to align themselves with. Then there was six rounds of the semifinals.

It was ran the same way as in the preliminaries where there were a total of six robots on the field at once all trying to attempting to stack totes on scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers, and properly disposing of pool noodles using their remote-controlled robots they designed
and built.

After about eight and a half hours of competition it was time to announce the winners.

In third place were the teams of 2181 out of Big Lake, 4778, Chanhassen, 3276 New London-Spicer.

In second place were 2883 Warroad, 2052 Irondale, 2526 Maple Grove.

Championship team captain 2512 Duluth East, 3130 East Ridge.

The overall team winner was 4215 Trinity School at River Ridge.