Thursday, April 27, 2006

FIRST Nationals 2006 Day 1

Thursday, April 27, 2006 – Atlanta, GA

Yesterday sixteen students and four teachers left Carl Hayden High School and flew to Atlanta for the FIRST international robotics championship.

Today we went to the convention center and Georgia Dome and uncrated “Karen”, our robot who we have not seen since the regional competition in Arizona last month. Our ‘bot survived the shipping and storage, although her batteries were not charged. We were also joined by our mentors, Jerry and Karen (the robot’s namesake). Their batteries WERE charged!

We passed inspection and we participated in three practice rounds which went very well. Our robot is designed to shoot balls in a goal 8 foot above the field, all by herself in the first 10 seconds of the game. We were nailing 4 balls in the goal which earns us 12 points. After that, the team gets to drive the robot for the remaining 2 minutes of game play. We feel the robot is living up to her potential.

While seniors Cristian, Lorenzo (of La Vida Robot fame) Annalisa, Luis and Juana “know the ropes”, the younger students, Pablo, Marco, Daniel, Jorge, Jesus, Marco, Cynthia, Angelica, Yvette, Rebecca, Airreal and Elizabeth have been phenomenal and are the “A team” crew. Since we felt we did not have a killer robot this year, we decided to give the younger team members experience.

Our main goal this year is to win the highest award, the Chairman’s Award. It is given to the team that has promoted math, science and engineering education and has changed the culture. With all the presentations we have given this year (50) and the publications we have been in and with all the positive TV coverage we have been fortunate to receive, well, we feel we are frontrunners. President Annalisa and Luis and Daniel will make a 15 minute presentation to the judges and we will visited by everyone in the pits tomorrow and Saturday. Awards are Saturday afternoon.

Friday and Saturday’s competitions are being televised over the NASA channel and also webcast on their web site. There are four divisions and we are in the Curie division. Watch for us.

In a few minutes the pizza we ordered will arrive and we’ll all be talking about what we hope to accomplish tomorrow. The kids really understand what they have done for our school and neighborhood. They have taken the image of an “underperforming” school which is now being considered to be a model for all schools to emulate.

Juana was commenting on how so many good things have been happening to her during the last year. She is looking forward to college next semester. She has a tuition scholarship for Arizona State University. She’s worked very hard and she’s extremely talented. It’s really an honor to be around these young adults. Good things have been happening to all of us!

We would not be here without our sponsors who have given so much:

Arthur M. Blank Foundation
Ira A. Fulton
Wells Fargo, Phelps-Dodge Corp.
Southwest Fastner

And all the teachers, parents and friends that have given their support. It is really paying off.

… and to all the people who send us words of encouragement via emails and notes. We read them to the kids and it really means a lot.

Tomorrow will be something..

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