KANSAS CITY – It didn’t take long for Team SCREAM members to put the disappointment of Saturday’s FIRST Robotics Kansas City Regional finals behind them.
After not being selected for the regional playoffs for the first time since its rookie season in 2013, the Smith-Cotton High School robotics team had its robot back on the practice field at the Metropolitan Community College campus, working on improvements for its next competition this coming weekend in Oklahoma City. This year’s game is FIRST Steamworks, which has a steam punk and airship theme and involves creating a robot that can shoot plastic balls into high and low goals, place gears to drive rotors and climb a rope to the airship control center. Teams work in three-member alliances to attempt to outscore their opponents.
Team SCREAM received a wildcard invitation to the FIRST World Championships with its performance two weeks ago at the Arkansas regional, but had hopes of claiming a regional champion’s banner at Kansas City. To achieve that, team members worked the past two weeks on the autonomous mode, the first 15 seconds of the game where the robot operates without human control.
“We decided after Arkansas that we were going to focus a lot on our programming,” said Team SCREAM Head Coach Kyle Stoecklein. “We have spent a lot of time on our practice field working on autonomous. Everything ran the way we expected it to; it wasn’t the best. We did a little bit better with shooting than we did (at Arkansas).”
Another issue with Team SCREAM’s robot was its gear collection and placement ability. Stoecklein and his team decided the best option at Kansas City was to become a defensive robot, blocking bots from opposing teams from returning to scoring zones. Due to its weight and wheelbase, the robot was effective in this role but the limited offensive ability left Team SCREAM on the outside after alliance selection, when the top eight teams pick their two partner teams for the playoffs.
“We thought we had a chance with a couple of the top-seeded teams just because we knew we were a defensive bot and that’s what they would need late in the rounds,” Stoecklein said. “But they are really good teams and they have great scouts and had other good defensive bots they were looking at.”
Winning the Kansas City Regional title was the alliance comprised of Broncobots, from Lee’s Summit North High; CRyptonite, from Cinco Ranch High in Katy, Texas; and CTC Inspire, from Fort Osage High in Independence.
Immediately after alliance selection ended, Team SCREAM drive team member Ethan Hisle and mentor Zach Bargman had the robot back on the practice field to work on an autonomous function that would allow the robot to drive backward then shoot balls into the high goal.
“It is something that we feel is really important to this game,” Hisle said. “Autonomous has always been important in FIRST. An autonomous score would really make us a much more desirable robot” during alliance selections. Hisle is confident the new feature will be ready in time for the Oklahoma City Regional.
Stoecklein said the team also will refine the gear collection function, but a challenge will be finding a way to drop five pounds from the robot to allow for the new feature and still meet the weight limit.
“Everybody worked the way they should have, we just have some mechanical work to do this week,” Stoecklein said. “Hopefully we will get those updates done and if we can we’ll focus on playing the game a little bit better.”
Press release courtesy Sedalia School District 200