By Krystin Nelligan, sophomore and communications director for the Dreadbots
Now in their ninth year of competition, Dexter’s FIRST Robotics team #3656, the Dreadbots, qualified 14th of 40 teams at the Dow Field Division of the Michigan State Championships held on April 10th-13th at Saginaw Valley State University. The Dreadbots qualified for finals competition with a 6-6-0 record against the best in the state. While a few missteps cost the Dreadbots some ranking points, they were chosen to join the 8th alliance who fought to win the Dow Division, one of four divisions at this District championship event. While most FIRST district events draw from multiple states, Michigan has so many teams that it comprises its own district.
In addition to
Another important duty performed by Dreadbot students at competitions is scouting. Scouting generally refers to the process of identifying the strengths and weaknesses of other teams, important information since the Dreadbots will be playing both with and against every team at some point. New to the Dreadbots at the State Competition was the use of electronic tablets to scout at this competition. Using the tablet instead of a sheet of paper makes scouting easier for the students collecting data and the students reading the data. Scouting sub-team leader Nathan Miller said, “Now we can have more people focused on data analysis compared to just entering data.” The Dreadbots enjoyed working with the tablets instead of paper, as the tablets allow the team to be able to focus on the match and record more accurate data.
Team co-captain Andrew Merriman thinks, ”we have a good chance (of doing well at the World Championship) especially if we fix all of our issues now.” One issue was a motor mount failure in the third quarter-final match against the #1 seeded alliance. When asked how stressful this competition was, team co-captain Christian Vaughan said, “With driving it’s honestly not that stressful, it’s really just down to getting in the zone and once you’re in the zone you really don’t feel any stress, you’re just driving the robot.”
In the quarter-finals, the Dreadbots and their alliance mates (the Pi Hi Samurai, team #1076 from Pioneer High School, Ann Arbor and I.C.E. Cubed, team #4970 from Bark River-Harris High School, Harris) shocked the #1 division alliance with a defense-oriented strategy resulting in a solid win in the first match. This win was even more absolute when an opposing robot committed a red-card foul that deleted all of their points causing a final score of 106-0 in the Dreadbot’s favor. Unfortunately, the Dreadbot’s alliance couldn’t maintain their momentum for the next two matches. In the 2nd match, Dexter’s opponents chose a different strategy and benefitted from the loss of a camera and some lowered mechanical performance on Dexter’s alliance. When it was all tied up at one win each, the final match went south for Dexter’s alliance. The Dreadbot’s robot suffered a catastrophic motor mount failure on their left-front wheel at the beginning of the match. The Dreadbots were dragging the motor the entire match. Dexter’s alliance partners also had problems with maintaining air-pressure, a lost drive chain, and a failed wheel. Despite all of this happening, the Dreadbot’s alliance still gave their opponents a run for their money. While the Dreadbot’s alliance was still able to score, their performance was severely curtailed. In the
At the end of the State Championships, the Dreadbots
Although the Dreadbots didn’t win their division, they did well enough to easily qualify for the World Championship. The Dreadbot have gone to the State Championship 7 times and qualified for the World Championship 6 times. This year it is held in Detroit at Cobo Hall, April 24-27, the top 400 teams in the world will be attending. Attendance is free. Come see them!
Does your child want to get in on the fun, but isn’t yet in high school? The Dreadbots have recruited mentors for a 4th-6th grade FIRST LEGO League (FLL) robotics program that will be held early this fall. Recent outreach events in Dexter have indicated strong interest in this program. In addition, a K-3rd grade (FLL Jr.) program has one eager mentor looking for a partner to help run the program, with a number of families already expressing interest in participating.
The Dreadbots are also looking for one additional mentor for a 7th and 8th grade FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics program at Mill Creek. Several students are already expressing keen interest, and the Dreadbots hope to reach more Mill Creek students at the upcoming Science Night currently planned for Mill Creek on Tuesday, May 14th.
All proposed FIRST robotics programs will be assisted by the Dreadbots. Mentors do not need to have a technical background. Contact Shari Lindskov at email@example.com for more information. Your child will be happy you did!