Friday the 13th lived up to it's name, as TEAM 3641, The Flying Toasters, who began the day 4-0-0, had bad luck with transmissions. First, the transmission that operates the manipulator (the thing that captures the yellow cube and moves it around) locked up in a match. Upon disassembly, reflection, and problem solving, it was found that the momentum of the motor spinning was so great that when the motor was turned off it continued to spin for a bit and bound the manipulator against its stops. Newtons law got us! Without the ability to manipulate the cubes we lost the match.
Rebounding from the first setback, the Toasters later had a pushing duel in the aggressive attempt to win the match, which of course, we did. In the next match, however, the chassis drive transmissions failed and the Toasters took a hit in winning as without the ability to perform, we couldn't score. Quickly following that match, the team changed out both drive transmissions and headed back in to qualification matches.
Finishing in the top 8 teams out of 40 in our division, the Flying Toasters were first pick by the second alliance. As this Eliminations Alliance Selection (like march madness and sweet 16) was happening Friday night, the Toasters perfected a 3-cube autonomous cycle, unheard of at States.
Saturday the 14th was a day of preservation, as with so many good teams at states and so well balanced alliances playing in the eliminations (playoffs), each advancement was going to come down to who makes the most mistakes or breakdowns. In short, a nail-biter. Advancing through the quarter finals, the semi's alliance was 1-1, when it was found that our alliance captain had broken their drive transmission in the last match. Substituting a back-up robot (one not picked earlier for playoffs), the Toaster's took lead of the alliance as they showed everyone their metal. Advancing to Finals, all that determination could not make up for two top robots against our robot, and our alliance was stopped. WE WERE FINALISTS!
Moreover, during our playoffs, a gentleman saw our team banner as he entered in to the pit area and rushed over to cheer us on. Governor Rick Snyder, who says he is a fan of the team, came over to sheer us on and find out how we were doing. Being a nerd like us, as he puts it, spent quite a bit of time with the pit crew talking about the robot, the success of the team, careers, future, etc. He got right down in to the robot asking many pertinent questions. Before he left, he was happy to sign the robot as well as the Guitar Hero that we use to control the robot. A while later, Dean Kamen, the guy who started FIRST robotics over 25 years ago, came to see us and signed our newly made pit structure. How nice was it for our students to be recognized!
But the day did not end with only a finalist medal and trophy. After we took our team picture on the field, the Toasters helped tear down the three fields that were no longer needed to be used before the team settled down for the final inter-division playoffs and final awards ceremony. The Flying Toasters, who in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, and this year, 2018 had competed at State Championships for the Chairman's award but never advanced, were taken by surprise as the announcement of our team winning one of the five Chairman's awards at States! This award automatically advances us to Worlds, regardless of the performance of our robot. We were now double qualified for worlds!
When the final Michigan District rankings came out Saturday night, the Flying Toasters were 9th in Michigan out of over 500 teams. That's being in the top 2% of the teams.
-We are the highest robot performing team winning State Chairman's award for 2018
-We hold the most Chairman's award blue banners (wins) for any other 3000 series team number (and the youngest team overall in the State of Michigan too)
-We have won awards at every event attended in 2018
-We are one of only five Michigan Teams to hold THREE Blue Banners for 2018
Most might think I am bragging about the team. Instead, I am bragging about our district. All of my high-schoolers had to go to elementary school, and middle school to be here; think of all the teachers and administrators who make that happen and prepared them. And without the fantastic support staff we have, we could not be able to make it. For a team, as young as ours (8-seasons old) to be as successful, it says a lot about our whole district. As we say in robotics, Robotics isn't about building robots but rather about building people, and it take a community to develop that!
SEE YOU AT WORLDS:
If you haven't heard, FIRST WORLD Championships for our district is in Detroit this year. Here is the link: https://www.firstchampionship.org/detroit-home
The event is free to the public so that we (all of us, our teams, etc.) can inspire people into Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. Come see us!