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It comes to an End..this year anyway.

Second full day of competition brought some more ups and downs. I would have to say more ups’ until the end of the day.  The day started early again and we had the 3rd match of the day.  The team needed to come through with a win and show  how their robot could perform well in competition. The competition was rocking as they say. FRC which was in the other half the building was starting their competition also and having opening ceremonies.

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Before the beginning of the competitions that day Dean Kamen spoke to everyone . His passion for STEM and helping young people was evident in his speech. On the First Challenge website  it says “his passion and determination to help young people discover the excitement and rewards of science and technology are the cornerstones of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).” DSC_0073

Once opening ceremonies were finished, competition began. The day went well for Gibbons Robotics, we won both matches. After the matches were complete the alliances would be chosen. The top teams would choose other teams to partner with during the last part of the competition. We were hoping to be chosen since we did well in the last part of the competition. Also, again personal opinion, we had one of the best defensive robots and it had looked promising. But it didn’t work out, we were not picked for alliance. The awards took place at the end. The team had been hoping to get the PTC design award again, this would then qualify us for World. But it didn’t work out that way.

We went 3-3 at the competition and the team did a good job. They shouldn’t hang their heads. It was a tough run, only 8 days to prepare. They didn’t even have an opportunity to shake the bot down and make sure everything was working before competition. Also half the team wasn’t there due to different reasons. They did get in the news, there is an article that highlights the team. It does a good job talking about the patent the team has on its hardware.

Everything went well and the team was a bit down about not making the World competition, but they did a good job for such a short turn around. They should be proud of themselves, the coaches and mentor’s are. Which reminds me a big shout out to Mr. and Mrs. Toebes for their time and thank you to all the parents for their support. They’re already talking about getting started for next year.

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Robotics Tournament

Finished! And it was a great success. According to everyone who participated in the event. We had over 500 live views on our broadcast at High School Cube. It was the second most watched event at Cardinal Gibbons since we started broadcasting live. Over 300 people attended the event. A special shout out to all the volunteers who worked. We were lucky in that we had a number of volunteers from Cisco. We also had teacher, parent and student volunteers working throughout the day. To read a brief summary of the event you can see an article written by our development person (thanks Rachelle) on our school web page. You can also find the rules to the qualifying matches. The event was called FTC Block Party gameFirst Tech Challenge of NC helped with various areas of the tournament. Their support throughout the tournament was appreciated. Various other people like our Principal Mr. Curtis and Assistant Principal Mr. C both supported and helped with the event. Their support was greatly appreciated during the planning and executing phase of the tournament.

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More photos are available at our school smugmug page. The purpose of the blog entry is not to go over the whole event; you can read about that on the school web page. It’s about sharing pointers to someone who might be planning on holding a robotics tournament.

First I would recommend you have a meeting with your administrators to make sure you have the materials, facilities, and support. I had tons of meetings with my administrators and maintenance to make sure we had what we needed. When we didn’t,  we had to go outside the school for it. We were lucky because our Coaches were amazing and made sure whatever we didn’t have at school we brought in.

Second make sure you have your community involved. We had over 25 Parent volunteers and 30 student volunteers. All of them helped to make event go as smooth as possible. If I had a shortage of people for somewhere, there was a volunteer waiting to fill in. We also had the support of the science department. Even though we had just put on our Science Festival about a week or two before, the science teachers agreed to volunteer and help with tournament. Our judges and referees came from Cisco. Again volunteers. NC First did provide a couple of volunteers to help out. Overall this was the most important component of this event. If you don’t have the volunteers to run the event, well then your in trouble.

Third, make sure you schedule it on the calendar way before anything else. If I had to go back I wouldn’t have the science festival and tournament so close. But that was nobody’s fault it just happened that way. Also, food, we had our concession stand open all day. I really think we only needed it open right before lunch and maybe a couple hours after lunch. Usually teams will bring their own snacks. In the cafeteria we had the ability to assign one table for each team. We hoped this would keep the food out of our classrooms. It did. I might add that the teams did an awesome job in cleaning up and keeping everything clean.

Last, use Google Docs to help you organize the event. I can’t tell you how awesome the forms and spreadsheets were for organizing volunteers. I created a form for the event with two hour time slots for different volunteer spots. It worked great, I could share the documents with the organizing committee and change times or add times when needed on the fly. I really do like Google Docs, and now that our school has set up an account with them its becoming easier to use. One thing, advice keep a watch on your time slots so you can close them when filled. I had too many people at a certain time and then no volunteers at another time. I wonder if there is a script you can use in Google? Not sure, but there are tons of templates in Google you can use.

I hope I helped anyone who is organizing an event like a robotics competition or science event.  I really was on the side of organization, the Coaches took care of the technical side. I did enjoy watching the matches and our team Purple Gears 2901 did well and earned the PTC Design Award. Again a big thanks to our volunteers, NC First Tech Challenge and Cisco.