Dimond Hosts Lego League Robotics Tournament

Robotics is like a sport without the extreme physical labor. Students work on designing, building and programming robots at daily practices.

On Jan. 20, 2018, Dimond High School hosted a F.I.R.S.T. Lego® League robotics tournament.

F.I.R.S.T is an acronym that means “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” says Nikira Lane, a judge at the event.

Lane also stated, “Leaving the kids feeling inspired by technology is the goal for all of us.” The idea of inspiring kids at a young age is a reoccuring theme in FIRST robotics.

The FIRST program inspires students around the world to be interested in STEM futures. The program involves students K-12 in four age level programs.   

Programs include “Junior First Lego® League, First Lego® League, First Tech Challenge, and First Robotics Competition,” according to Wade Roach, mentor of FIRST programs at Dimond.

FIRST programs have growing numbers and there are tens of thousands of teams to date.

Every year a new competition is issued to the teams for them to design their robot around. These competitions have tasks and the teams must complete tasks to score points.

The game for the 2017-2018 season is called “Hydrodynamics” and requires teams to autonomously have their robots complete water related tasks around the town.

Teams had attachments and multiple programs to complete these tasks. “Many robots were extremely thought out and performed well”, said Lane.

The event at Dimond was coordinated by Vicki Nechodomu, an outreach Coordinator for U.A.A. She said that Dimond was chosen for its “large involvement in FIRST programs.” She also remarked that the biggest benefit she sees is “inspiring kids to be great stem leaders.”

For volunteers at the event it was a “huge success and everyone had lots of fun,” said both Lane and Nechodomu. Many volunteers were Dimond students from robotics and National Honor Society.

The volunteer turnout was “unexpected and [they] had to turn people away because [they] had so many volunteers,” said Nechodomu.

Volunteers didn’t need any experience or involvement in robotics to be accepted.

Nechodomu said, “A variety of backgrounds help diversify the experience for the kids”

Roach said, “The turnout was much larger than any of us expected.”

This was largely because of the widespread notice throughout the robotics community.

The turnout was 60 teams. Each team got three matches to prove their abilities and climb the ranking board. Each team was also judged in three categories for their community project, their poster presentation and their robot design.

Four robot arenas were set up in the gym for quick transition and constant robot matches. Birch Boyer, a volunteer at the event said, “The transition at this event was great and we were able to run matches faster than anyone expected”.

Robotics teams from Eagle River and Dimond brought their robots to demonstrate to the audience and participants. Chris Goolsby, a member of FRC team said, “The kids had a great time driving the robot around and exploring what the possibilities are.”

According to Goolsby, “many of the kids left the robot booth feeling inspired and setting goals to build a robot like ours one day”

Roach would add, “The FRC team needs these kids to feel inspired and commit to join the team in the future.”

For some, robotics is a way of life. It appears as an avenue for struggling students or a guide for students on a path to success.

Nechodomu said, “Inspiring these kids to get educated and keep them on a good path is the most meaningful attribute to the FIRST program.”