In March, Seacrest Country Day School’s (FL) Upper School robotics team, the RoboRays, beat 60 other teams to win the Orlando FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Regional tournament. The team then raised the money to travel to Houston, Texas, to compete in the FIRST World Championship April 19–22.
FIRST robotics competitions pit randomly chosen three-team alliances against one another. Teams rack up points by performing several actions, including collecting and depositing game pieces, shooting balls into multiple targets at various heights, and having robots climb a rope.
In the preliminary competition round of the regional tournament, the RoboRays finished with a frustrating 4–4 record and were in danger of not advancing to the semifinals, where teams choose their alliance partners. But they did advance, and the top team of the tournament—Team S.P.A.M (Speed, Power, and Maneuverability) from Stewart, Florida—chose to form an alliance with the RoboRays and Team Rembrandts from the Netherlands.
The alliance lost its first match of the semifinal round, but then went on to sweep the rest of the competition, winning the final match by a score of 448–291.
At the World Championship, the RoboRays finished in the middle of the field, a respectable showing for first-timers. The matches the RoboRays lost were some of the highest scoring matches in their division, indicating that the RoboRays pressed their opponents to play exceptionally well.
“We learned a lot, and the whole team is looking forward to next year, seniors included,” says Marc Barry, Seacrest advanced robotics teacher and RoboRays coach.