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March 14, 2014

Scorpion Robotics ‘Scoops’ up another win, advances into super regionals

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Rebecca Amber
Staff writer

The Scorpions Robotics team named their robot, Scoop Da Whoop, after the scooping mechanism attached to the top of the robot, which helps the team achieve one of the game objectives to move small square pieces from the playing field to a series of baskets attached to a pendulum. The team receives additional points if they can use the blocks to balance the pendulum.

As rookies, the Scorpion Robotics team from Desert Junior-Senior High School is preparing for the Western United States Super Regional Championship in Sacramento, Calif., March 20-22.

The Scorpion team is one of only eight teams from the Los Angeles region selected to advance after the FIRST Tech Challenge Regional Championship Tournament held Feb. 22. Additionally, they are the only team to advance and represent the Antelope Valley area in the competition.

“For a rookie team we’ve already exceeded what our goal was. Our goal was to not embarrass ourselves at the qualifying tournament, let alone make it to the L.A. regional’s, and yet let alone get one of the eight slots to advance to the super regional’s,” said Col. Robby Weaver, 412th Maintenance Group commander and head coach of the DHS Scorpions Robotics Team.

The Scorpions team started designing their robot, Scoop Da Whoop, in August at the start of the school year.

“It started out almost all trial and error, with a little strategic planning, but at this point since the team has participated in tournaments, I think that ratio has changed a lot,” said Weaver.

The team practices their ìpull-up,” which they hope to use at the Western United States Super Regional Championship in Sacramento, Calif., Mar. 20-22. The team will earn extra points during the competition if the robot is able to pull itself up and hang from a bar for a specified duration of time.

“We’ve tried a lot more at this point so we know kind of what the robot and the team is able to do so it’s a lot less trial and error.”

According to Weaver, robotics is a very team-driven activity. He noted that you can identify contributions that every single team member made to the robot. You can also see every individuals’ influence on the way the robot moves.

Jordan Councell, grade nine, sees everyone on his team as having a “specialty” and his strong area is design. Since he joined the team, Councell has learned a lot about motor connections and the laws of physics.

“I knew I would learn a few things, but the programming is definitely what caught me by surprise and how much I learned about that,” said Councell.

Seventh grader Samuel Munro, knew he would learn about programming when he joined the team. What he didn’t expect was how much robotics has expanded his “knowledge on engineering.”

Scoop Da Whoop is also equipped with a flag-raising mechanism, which is another game task that will help the team to advance in competition.

“I think we’re most of all lucky to be doing this,” said Munro. “Since it’s new we didn’t expect to win and it’s just overwhelming.”

Munro shared that he learns a lot from the other teams at the competitions, especially how to showcase their team more effectively.

“Other teams highlight their achievements more than their robot itself and then competing against or with them you can learn by the way the play and the way they communicate with others,” said Munro.

According to Weaver the team has received an “outstanding” amount of support from the base. The International Test and Evaluation Association even paid their entry fee for the super regionals competition.

“We don’t have the experience that a lot of other teams have, but we’ve got a really good mix of people and we all pitched in to create a really awesome robot,” said Councell. “It’s amazing for a rookie team how far we’ve come. We’ve beat out so many teams that have been coming for years and years.”

The FIRST Tech Challenge West Super Regional Championship will be held at the McClellan Conference Center in Sacramento, set amidst an historic Air Force Base ambiance. The two-and-a-half day event will feature the top 72 teams from the Western United States including Alaska. More than 2000 students, mentors and volunteers are expected. The event is free for the general public to attend.




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