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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Short Recap Of Our Best Regional So Far

  • We had just an incredible amount of fun during the Regional, in the van rides to our hotel. at the Mall of America and in our hotel rooms. 
  • The camaraderie of our team was constantly on display. Whether it was making funny faces to each other, writing funny messages on our white board, or lots of dancing, our team always had a smile on our faces.
  • Many team members are sore and hoarse from all the dancing and cheering we did. 
  • Can't wait to share some of our funny face pictures and other goofy ones.
  • We are rockstars.

  • We were in constant communication with our West Central Alliance friends. Morris and St. Cloud especially were incredibly fun and nice and just awesome. We could not be happier for St. Cloud qualifying for Champs.
  • Our team helped 15 teams out of 63 (whether that be lending a tool, fixing some Java code, or completely rewiring a robot and writing a BOM) .

  • Our Chairman's Presentation was fantastic. Kacy, Lacey, and Jade deserve all the congratulations in the entire world. We ended up not winning but we put up the best fight we could. 
  • The group hug after Chairman's presentation was over was a highlight of the whole weekend. 
  • Everyone on our team who talked to the Judge's was extremely well prepared. The professionalism and fun our team displayed was apparent to every single one of them. 
  • The mascot was awesome. 

  • We were undefeated until our last match. Lost that one by 14 points. Final record for qualifying was 7-1. 
  • We ended up finishing 3rd in qualifying after ending Friday in 1st place. 
  • We moved up to the 2nd seeded alliance. We picked 3018 Nordic Storm and 2846 Fire Bears for our alliance.
  • We won the quarterfinals after 3 tough, close matches.
  • We lost in the semifinals to a tough alliance. 
  • Our team won 2 different awards. We won Team Spirit and Gracious Professionalism. 

A more philosophical discussion will come at some point. All in all, we met every single goal we set for this season, had more fun than should be legal, and helped more people than we thought possible. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Qualifying Day

Today was a large achievement for our team. In the morning, Lacey, Jade, and Kacy did their Chairman’s presentation and it was a huge relief. The presentation went perfectly and the judges seemed to have loved it. Throughout the day, we won every qualifying match, being the only undefeated team at the 10,000 Lakes Regional. We are currently ranked as the first team, but has the chance to change with our Qualifying matches tomorrow morning. At the Friday Award Ceremony, our team won the Spirit Award. Everyone was enthusiastic with the results of the day, and we are patiently awaiting the results that Saturday will bring. Without all the hard work of our team, we would not have been as successful as we had been today.

Below is a list of our Qualifying matches:

Qualifying Match 2:
Red Alliance: 2479, 4536, 3100
Blue Alliance: 2545, 3313, 2470
Score: 5 to 34

Qualifying Match 19:
Red Alliance: 4850, 3313, 4207
Blue Alliance: 2825, 3454, 2500
Score: 28 to 2

Qualifying Match 24:
Red Alliance: 2498, 2511, 3313
Blue Alliance: 4360, 4626, 3058
Score: 47 to 10

Qualifying Match 42:
Red Alliance: 2535, 2450, 3300
Blue Alliance: 3524, 525, 3313
Score: 5 to 69

Qualifying Match 52:
Red Alliance: 3313, 2508, 2501
Blue Alliance: 2480, 2529, 3299
Score: 40 to 35

Qualifying Match 57:
Red Alliance: 3313, 2509, 3184
Blue Alliance: 3765, 4664, 2879
Score: 61 to 28

Practice Day

The first day always seems to be the toughest at the competition, assigning tasks for everyone on the team, keeping everyone organized, and ensuring our robot is working properly. Our biggest challenge in the morning was forgetting important items, such as our tool box keys, laptops, and cameras. We sent Mike, one of the chaperones, back to the hotel and our items were retrieved. Without him, we would have been sitting ducks for a while.

While we waited, we did a practice round which took a long time to get started but went pretty well. After finishing the first practice round, we got inspected. Our inspector was very thorough which made us very worried. We had to do a couple fixes (the funniest one was that we put some qhiteboard material in fornt of our shooter wheel).

Our biggest struggle was fixing our computer updating issues. We thought we had updated all of our stufff but apparently we did not. So that took a while but we figured it out.

Scout team did a really good job all day watching practice matches and doing pit scouting! We are all set and prepared for Friday when the matches start to count.

Lacey walked around as the mascot and got some really good pictures!

We ended up running 4 different practice matches. Our team alone scored 19, 24, 34, and 28 points. That’s pretty good! BUT! We will get so much better.

At the end of the day, we were bored so we started walking around the pits looking at our alliance partners and opponents for the day. One team, 2479, was really struggling. They had a first year mentors and a bunch of new students. We absolutely empathized (that was us 2 years ago). So we started working with them. Their frame perimeter was too big, their wiring was not up to code, they did not have a BOM, and the programming was barely started. BUT! We got them extremely close to driving. We’ll finish it tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Travel Day

New YouTube Videos:
Chairman's Video
Van Dance Party!

After sitting through 6 periods of classes where all we thought about was ROBOTS, the team finally traveled to 10,000 Lakes today. WE ARE SO GOSH DARN EXCITED.

Bryce and Bydlon started packing the trailer during the last hour of the day. Most of the heavy lifting was done when the rest of the team arrived. Bydlon got a Sprinter Van and a parent brought their van. The caravan left JHS at 4pm.

The drive down was fun for the Sprinter Van at least. We had some awesome music playing and danced and sang and it was super fun. There's video evidence that will uploaded tonight!

We arrived at Williams Arena on the U of M campus and unloaded all of our stuff. We have a lot of stuff... But that's a good thing! That means we are very prepared!!!

After unloading, the team proceeded to our hotel and got checked in. We went over to the Mall of America and ate dinner. Then we split up and hung out. Finally, we had a team meeting to prepare for tomorrow!

Practice Day is tomorrow!!! Time to get inspected, practice driving, and do some pit scouting!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Post Box Up Day Updates

We've been working hard since Box Up Day!

Chairman's - We have our speech written and are working on memorizing it. We have a photo board planned out. In connection with that, we have upgraded our mascot uniform. A new coat of paint and accents make it look better than ever. The mascot will be an important part of our speech. "Transformation"

Battery Cart - Tyler and his dad, Dan, made our team a battery cart. It's awesome! We also painted it in our colors and put on our major sponsors.

Robot Cart - Tyler also upgraded our robot cart with a shelf for our driver's station and a place for our flag while we are in the line queuing.

Chairman's Video - We have to give the Judge's a video to show if we win Chairman's Award. It needs to be a summation of our team and all the work we do. It has been a lot of work but we are SO CLOSE to being finished.

Prototype Robot - We worked on the prototype robot and getting it back up and running. It was a good experience for the freshman to work on a robot and do all the wiring and work on it. We also needed the robot for all of our Outreach events.

Outreach - We visited the FTC Championships at Prior Lake, traveled to Duluth in one day to watch a Regional, had a booth at our Student Showcase, and helped out at the Empty Bowls Project. Phew! Always busy. And we forgot to add that we were on the radio 2 different times! One time was with the Superintendent and the other was put on by the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission. Both were so much fun!

Scouting - We have watched a lot of matches on webcasts and done some preliminary scouting. Lots of the teams at 10,000 Lakes only attend that Regional but a few have been other places. We have also started thinking about game strategy and how best to work with Alliance Partners.

Digital Media Award - We submitted for the Media and Technology Innovation Award. Zack and Carson worked their tails off making an interactive pdf file that is super cool. We have also been updating this blog with more Resources and posts about all of our activities.

Regional Prep - We received some awesome lanyards and wristbands (stop by our pit at 10,000 Lakes for these). We also created a robot handout and an outreach handout for Judge's and others at our pit. Bydlon is giving 2 presentations on Thursday of the Regional. One is about food fundraisers and the other is about Social Media. The team came up with a pit layout as well.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Digital Media Decision

The Media and Technology Innovation Award sponsored by Comcast is a brand new award for FIRST Robotics in 2013. It is only offered at Championships, however, any team can enter. Because it is a new award, the rules and guidelines are still being formulated completely. The rules for the award were not released until about the time Build Season ended (around a month to prepare and submit).

Not to get too deep but there were some philosophical questions to our entry decision this year. Does one go the safer route and hope that the content speaks for itself? Or do you go the super risky, innovative route and possibly get DQ'ed because you're dealing in technological semantics?

Choice #1: Graphical PDF

We made a graphic about 4 out of our 5 channels using Microsoft Word. There is not a ton of explanation or words but that's because we felt there didn't need to be. Our Media Plan is not very complicated. Our website is the main funnel, the blog contains the majority of our lasting team information, and Twitter is updated all the time. Facebook and Tumblr are updated but not with the care and effort used for Twitter (except that we use Buffer to share Tweets with Facebook).

The second page describes our YouTube plan. Why devote an entire page to an inforgraphic about our YouTube? Simply, it's been our major focus this year. Even more than our blog and Twitter. We uploaded over 30 edited videos during Build Season. On average, that's a new video every 1.5 days or so. By using simple graphics and displaying our impact, we felt we were making a bigger statement than writing an essay (not to say that writing an essay is not effective because it is). It's a team choice.

Is this strategy risky? We think it is. Our team discussed writing an essay but after all of the awards and essays we wrote this season, we wanted to go a different, more graphical, route. Our rationale: Let the channels and content speak for itself.

Choice #2: Interactive PDF

One of our team members used Flash to create an interactive, 1 page, pdf file. Download the file, then open it using Adobe. 

You simply click on the tabs and each channel's information is displayed. In the bottom right corner, we placed a "PRINT 2 PAGES" button which prints out Choice #1. Technically speaking, our award submission is a 1 page pdf that prints out as 2 pages. Soooo, technically, it's still within the rules. Plus it's completely innovative. The process we used to create it as a pdf was found by Googling different parts but we have yet to find something like what we created.

There are obvious risk factors in this approach. There are 5 tabs on the interactive 1 page document. Does that mean it's 1 page, or 5? The information in the printed pages is SIMILAR to the information printed out using the "PRINT 2 PAGES" button but it's not quite the same. So does that mean we are submitting a 3 page pdf? We have worked SO HARD on getting our name out there this year. Our social media has been rocking and rolling since September and has very rarely slowed down. Submitting an entry that might be DQ'ed out of the box is really hard to do after working so hard all year.

Resolution: Choice #2

Go big or go home.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Empty Bowls

Our of the main projects for the Senior Social Studies class at Jefferson High School is to put on a benefit for the Food Shelf in our school and in Douglas County. The benefit they host is called Empty Bowls.

It's a one night benefit which is fun because it combines so many cool aspects of our school. Our team presented, a band played, art was on display as a silent auction, and chili bowls are served. All proceeds go to local food shelves. It's a great cause and we were happy to be a part of it. We are still working on exposing our community to our presence and mission so all public outreach is fantastic.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Chairman's Party!

Kacy, Jade, and Bydlon (the main Chairman's team throughout the year) traveled down to Eagan High School for a Chairman's Party. The Chairman's Award is the most prestigious award in FIRST. It is given to the team that most embodies the ideals of FIRST (making science cool and accessible). Our team is submitting for the first time every this year. It has been an arduous process (way more work than we anticipated) but well worth it. It has focused our team and given us more direction. 

We met up with Team 2470 from Bloomington, Team 3841 from Burnsville, and Team 2220 from Eagan. It was so much fun! We love meeting and hanging out with other teams. The main purpose of the day however was to practice our presentation in front of Renee Becker and her friend Katie. Both have a lot of Chairman's experience and were incredibly helpful. The main aspect our team needs to work on is the question portion of the interview (5 min speech and 5 min questions). But we're doing a good job so far! 

We stopped off at the Mall of America on the way home to eat dinner and hang out. Jade had never been there before so we were not going to miss an opportunity to make that happen. It was so much fun!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Discovery Student Showcase

YouTube Video: Discovery Student Showcase

Our team recently attended the Student Showcase at Discovery Middle School. We prepared a prototype robot to show the work from our past build season. At least 18 people from our team were there to represent and talk with people about the robot.  The night was eventful, and our school’s superintendent stopped and talked with us about our robot along with many members of our community.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Duluth Visit

New YouTube Video: Duluth Regionals traVlog

The original plan was for Bydlon and 9 team members to go to Duluth to watch the 2 Regionals that occur there. The team would practice scouting, say hi to all of our BFF teams, and get a feel for Ultimate Ascent live. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. There was an ice storm so the team was not able to take a Sprinter Van like we would have liked to. Instead, Bryce and Bydlon (2 crazy people) decided to go to Duluth anyway in Bydlon's car.

The ride to Duluth was exciting and not in a good way. The roads were pretty terrible. However, they made it to Duluth safe and sound. They said hi to a bunch of our favorite teams in the pits. Most of the day was spent watching the Northern Lights Regional and getting a feel for how the game is played. It was a really fun, really exciting day.

Watch the YouTube video for all the highlights.