The Kittson Central Robotics A and B Teams before heading to State Competition. Team members include (back row l-r) Seth Ekdahl, Rylie Stull, Jadyn Swenson, Keaton Hultgren, Zachary Johnson, Nicholas Johnson, Brad Stewart, (front) Alex Lindegard, Matthew Stewart, Vanessa DeBruin, Marlee Turn, Morgan Hanson, Megan Hylton and Nathan Johnson. The team is coached by Ed Lehrke, who is flying the drone that is hovering in front of the kids at the top of the picture. The drone was won at a competition earlier this season and was donated by Digi-Key. (Photo courtesy of Kittson Central Facebook page)
By Megan Hylton and Janet Swenson
The Kittson Central Robotics A team, coached by Ed Lehrke, qualified for the World VEX Competition in Louisville, Ky., April 25-28. The team finished in the Runner-Up position at Minnesota’s State VEX Robotics Competition Feb. 2-3. The A team members include Brad Stewart, Zach Johnson, Nick Johnson, Jadyn Swenson, Seth Ekdahl, Nathan Johnson, Rylie Stull and Megan Hylton. The B Robotics Team, which also competed at the State VEX, includes Vanessa DeBruin, Keaton Hultgren, Morgan Hanson, Megan Hylton, Matthew Stewart, Marlee Turn, and Alex Lindegard.
The state robotics competition, held in St. Cloud, began with seven qualifying rounds. Teams were randomly paired with other teams to form a two-team alliance. Teams are ranked based on how many points they score, strength of the opponent, and overall record. Both teams did fairly well in these opening rounds. The A team racked up some excellent scores in half their rounds and overcame a couple of glitches to place 40th out of 64. The B team was not far behind finishing 42nd out of 64.
The top eight teams in the qualifying rounds became team leaders for the finals. They each were then able to choose two other teams to form a three-team alliance. Third-ranked Fisher-Climax High School, a team that the Bearcats had much success teaming up with in earlier meets throughout the season, chose the A team for their alliance. Teams then had to win two of three matches to advance in the finals. The new alliance squeaked out a win in their opening matches 65-63 and 89-84 to move into the semi-finals. The semi-finals proved to be a little easier with the Bearcat alliance winning 86-50 and 81-63, sealing their trip to the world competition. In the championship match, the Bearcat alliance faced a tough Mankato West alliance. The Bearcats fell 104-67 and 108-89. The top two alliances as well as specialty awards Excellence, Best Design, and Skills all advance to Worlds.
The competition “In The Zone” is played on a 12’ by 12’ field as seen in the pictures. Two alliances – one “red” and one “blue” – composed of two teams each, compete in matches consisting of a fifteen second autonomous period followed by one minute and forty-five seconds of driver-controlled play. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing Alliance by Stacking Cones on Goals, by Scoring Mobile Goals in Goal Zones, by having the Highest Stacks, and by Parking Robots.
Teams began preparing for this year last spring when they received their kits. They began by designing and building their robot. They need to consider the skills that need to be mastered by the robot and how many of them they want to be able to do. Brad and Zach are the primary code writers for the A team, and Morgan and Keaton are the primary writers for the B team.These students write the code and program the robot to do all of the skills – both in the autonomous period and the driver-controlled play. After the robot is built and programmed, students spend hours perfecting the skills, repairing, and upgrading. They must be good at what they do; they are heading to Kentucky!
If anyone would like to make a donation toward the expenses of the trip to Kentucky, they can send a check to Kittson Central Robotics, c/o Ed Lehrke, P.O. Box 670, Hallock, MN 56728.