Monarch, Skyline Teams Set to Battle in Robotics Regionals
Two area high schools — Monarch and Skyline — will soon be facing off in a battle of wits, agility, dexterity and determination.
This isn’t just another football game, though.
The Saturday regional competition features robotics teams that have designed and built robots to perform a specific task.
The competitions are organized by BEST Robotics, which describes itself as “a national nonprofit providing middle and high school students with STEM education for career and workforce development through our after-school program and competition.”
And each year, it chooses a different challenge for teams’ robots to face.
This year’s challenge, “Current Events,” is based around building a robot that can remove plastic waste from the ocean.
And given that Colorado is a land-locked state, to simulate this teams have to build a robot that wraps around and moves along a 2-by-4 and can reach platforms that represent ocean currents where plastic bottles are piled.
Each team gets points for every bottle it removes from the platform — and even more for each one a teammate is able to catch while standing inside of a pre-determined area.
And because of the open-ended prompt, each team has a pretty different way of approaching the problem.
At the last minute before a previous competition in Denver, Monarch’s team decided — after much deliberation about whether or not to use a claw to pick up the bottles — to go with a robot that embraces the chaotic nature of the competition and uses an angled metal plate in the shape of an upside-down V to shove bottles off of the platform.
And at the end of that competition, Monarch ended up taking first.
“We got in a huddle, and kind of said, ‘we gotta let it go bro,’” said Shane Stalter, coach of the Monarch robotics team, when talking about the decision to abandon the claw idea.
It’s not just the Monarch team that’s gone through some changes with its robot, Skyline has had its share of troubleshooting, too.
“We went through three different iterations of this,” Aron Messinger, a student at Skyline and member of the robotics team, said about the wheel that moves their robot.
Team members eventually settled on using the rubber inner-tube from a bicycle to make sure the wheel that moves their robot had enough traction.
Even during the competition teams have to fix and maintain their robots.
Riley Carpenter, who drove Monarch’s robot in the most-recent competition, said it’s intense, and during the last one, the team had to replace part of their robot multiple times.
“The string broke,” he said. “I believe it was three times.
“We replaced it during the semis, but during the finals where we did three rounds simultaneously, the string didn’t break any of those times, which was incredibly lucky.”
In addition to the intense, time-limited competition that takes place, teams are expected to present the marketing side of things through a PowerPointpresentation, construct an exhibition of their work and maintain an “engineering notebook” that explains their design process and strategy.
Skyline High School won the BEST award during its last competition, which recognizes teams that excel in all those categories.
Roman Garcia Martinez, who worked on designing the exhibit booth and the marketing presentation for Skyline’s team, said he’s learned much more than what people might expect from the team.
“We’re not just learning about robots or how to do marketing stuff, we’re actually team members that learn to value each other,” he said. “We’re learning to become better leaders here, too.”
Both Monarch and Skyline will be competing in the BEST regionals Saturday and Sunday at Metropolitan State University.