Saturday, March 11, 2006

FIRST Veterans Coliseum, Phoenix, AZ Day 3

Saturday March 11 2006. Veterans Coliseum, Phoenix, AZ

The kids won the top award: The Arizona Regional Chairman’s Award. We are all so excited. Winning one top award could be luck, but the kids have been earning top awrds for the last three years. They are not a fluke. They are the “real deal”.

This is the description of the Chariman’s Award:

The Chairman’s Award was created to keep the central focus of the FIRST Robotics Competition as our ultimate goal for transforming the culture in ways that will inspire greater levels of respect and honor for science and technology, as well as encourage more of today’s youth to become scientists, engineers, and technologists.

The Chairman’s Award represents the spirit of FIRST. It honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and which embodies the goals and purpose of FIRST. It remains the most prestigious team award FIRST presents.

FIRST will present a Regional Chairman’s Award at each regional competition. There are thirty-three (33) regional competitions scheduled for the 2006 season, therefore, there will be thirty-three Regional Chairman’s Award winners. Only the winners of the Regional Chairman’s Award will be eligible for consideration in the selection of The Chairman’s Award presented at The Championship.”

The kids have really worked hard all year and they were absolute hyper-happy to be honored.

We celebrated with our buddies from Mexico and our new friends from Chinle and Sierra Vista. Afterwards we took the kids out for pizza. It’s so much fun to see the reaction and pride in the new team members. It’s all so much bigger than they ever imagined!

Our robot wound up ranked 26th out of the 45 teams. We lost the last two competitions in the morning. We would have won the last match but because of a simple mental error we forgot to reconnect two wires that enabled our robot to fire the balls we carried, a potential 21 points. We lost the match by one point. Once again we learn the team that beats us the most is us.

Robot Karen was packed in her crate and we will see her in Atlanta for the championship April 27-29. We have our sights on the National Chairman’s Award. We made some adjustments to the robot before we tucked her in crate and we hope we worked all the bugs out.

The kids are now on a one week spring break. Fredi and I fly to FermiLabs in Illinois to speak to people who we really admire, but tonight, we sleep.

Thanks for all the encouragement.

Friday, March 10, 2006

FIRST Veterans Coliseum, Phoenix, AZ day 2

Friday March 10 2006. Veterans Coliseum, Phoenix, AZ

We lost our first games. Invariably, the balls would stick in our new ball holding tube or some other modification that we made would not work quite right. By noon we felt we really did not have a chance to perform well, Finally the last “fixit” worked and we won the rest of our matches. By the end of the day we are ranked 16th and there will be two more games Saturday morning. We may wind up playing in the quarter final matches Saturday afternoon. We’ll see.

A reporter from the Arizona Republic spent a lot of time with us. It’s exciting to see people “get it”.

This is not a robot contest. This is a convention of the most excited kids who have worked very hard to meet impossible deadlines and are now going public for the world to see what they have done. These are the people who will invent, discover, build and solve. While the media (well, I guess it’s all of us) has been obsessed with the lives and accomplishments of our sports and entertainment we haven’t noticed that we are losing our pool of engineers, scientists, researchers and innovators who have given us the standard of living that we take for granted.

Anyway, Connie the reporter even got to go into the judges room while our kids gave their presentation for the Chairman’s Award. They usually only allow the three student presenters and the judges in the room. The kids had a few minutes to make a presentation on how our team has affected our community. After all the publicity and all the presentations we have given and all the work the kids have done in neighborhood schools, the kids have a strong case on why we should be a model for other schools. Inagine: Carl Hayden High School that was labled “underperforming” just two years ago being considered as a “best practice”! The kids have accomplished a lot, but more importantly, their attitudes have changed. We will see if we won at Saturday’s award ceremony.

Annalisa, our president, has been fantastic. She along with Luis and Daniel, were our Chairman’s Award presenters. She also arraigned our lunches. Her parents arrive about 11 am and we have a tailgate party in the parking lot. The best part about it is that we also have included our good friends from Mexico’s team and our new friends from Chinle, AZ and Sierra Vista, AZ. At the end of this school year, Arizona State university is getting a first rate Chief Executive. Annalisa has earned scholarships that will pay for her tuition and her room and board thanks to the Maecenas Fund.

I’m told that the competition was webcast, but not broadcast on the NASA TV channel, but Saturday it will be on TV. If you watch, look for team 842. Our strategy is to shoot for the center goal in the first ten second autonomous period and then play defense to minimize our opponents score. We should be the “linebacker” on the field. At the end of the game we should be atop the ramp for bonus points.

Also watch for the cheerleaders. We had the full squad there Friday and a lot of them will return for Saturday. They were awesome. Usually they attend event to cheer for a sports team. With us, they are on the team.

It’s 3 am Arizona time and it’s raining. We haven’t had rain in months. It’s been the longest dry spell since records have been kept. The dry spell is over. That’s a good sign.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

FIRST Veterans Coliseum, Phoenix, AZ day 1

Thursday March 9 2006. Veterans Coliseum, Phoenix, AZ

Today is practice and inspection day. Tomorrow competition begins.

We unpacked “Karen” our FIRST robot. She had to be packed and shipped by February 21st. We spent twelve hours repairing and modifying our shooting robot. We had a basket on the top of her to hold the nerf balls that we shoot, but the balls kept jamming. We have replaced the basket with a tube that curves up and forward. Karen now looks like a scorpion.

Pablo is a sophomore, but he has been on the team since his first day of school last year. He worked hard to be chosen as the robot driver this year and he is doing a fantastic job. He has the skills of the “Gameboy generation” and discipline to listen to Cristian, the “coach” on the driving team. We are allowed four players: Driver (Pablo), codriver (Marcos), Human Player(Luis) and coach (Cristian). They have only had a little practice, but they seem to be doing fine.

Our girls VEX robot team, the VEXens, set up a field with their robots. Even though today was not a “demo day”. They attracted a lot of attention. Our young ladies have come a long way. A few months ago, none of them had ever held a power tool and today they are showing people how they made everything and letting people try driving their ‘bots. I imagine there will be a VEX competition alongside the FIRST regional next year.

Well, the robots ready, the kids are ready and the opening ceremonies are at 9am tomorrow. I’ve been told the games “The event will also be broadcast on the NASA channel. Here is a link to that information. Please click on the Arizona event.”

Look for us, team 842. We will probably be the only school with cheerleaders!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

We havn’t sent out a Carl Hayden Robotics Club update in a long time (June?). We have been very busy though doing presentations and such, but now it’s time to send out our “updates”.

It is competition time for the Carl Hayden Robotics team. Our schedule is:

March 9-11, FIRST Robotics, Arizona Regional, Phoenix AZ

April 27-29, FIRST Robotics, National Championship, Atlanta GA

June 23-24, MATE ROV, National Championship, Houston TX

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is now an international event. This year’s game was announced January 7th. A thousand high schools began designing, building, and testing their robot and they had to be shipped by February 21st. We will next see “Karen”, our robot, at the Coliseum in Phoenix for our regional competition.

The Arizona regional, one of 40 regional competitions, will be attended by 50 high school teams. Twenty teams are form AZ, the remainder from around the U.S., Canada, and our “adopted” team from Mexico City.

While we hope we do well in the robotics competition, our sights are set on the Chairman’s Award. It is the highest award for the team that best exemplifies the sprit of FIRST and is help up as a role model. We won the award in Arizona last year and come in second best in the Atlanta Nationals.

We will keep you posted on our competition

WIRED’s La Vida Robot brought a lot of public attention to the kids and their accomplishments in science and technology. The four students in the article are doing very well:

Oscar is a sophomore at ASU majoring in mechanical engineering. He started ASU’s ROV team and will be competing with ASU at the Houston competition!

Luis is at the Scottsdale Culinary Arts school and will be a Cordon Blue Chef and will have a degree in restaurant management.

Cristian and Lorenzo are Hayden seniors. Cristian will be going into the Ira Fulton School of Engineering at ASU and Lorenzo will be going to the local community college.

All four have “full ride” scholarships and very bright futures. The best news, is that these opportunities are not limited to the “La Vida Four”.

A businessman from Oregon heard about the kids and wanted to help. He started the Maecenas Fund to support hard working, aspiring students like ours to succeed in college. The Maecenas fund is going to provide support to four of our students.

ASU inaugurated a new scholarship for high school students who have been in academic competitions like FIRST and the MATE ROV event. One of our students (Oscar) received that award.

Basically, every senior in the robotics club for the last three years has gone on to college or the military, most with scholarships. Their success is having a profound effect on many of the other kids at school who never thought they had a chance at a middle class American life.

During the next few months, we will email updates on the team and some of the individual students. If you do not wish to receive these notes, just let me know. A lot of last year’s reports are at:

Further information on just about all the stuff we do can be found at: