Saturday, April 29, 2006

FIRST Nationals 2006 Saturday Final

Atlanta 2006, Final results

Our hotel is about a mile and a half from the Georgia Dome. The morning walk up and over a hill and the early day’s chill gets the heart pumping- as if we needed more stimulation.

Our spotting crew had a lot of intelligence on our opponents and we were teamed with mediocre allies for our first match, but we had all night to plot a strategy for our toughest game. Karen, Luis and the spotting crew told Jerry, Pablo, Marco and Jorge how they should attempt to score and defend. It was the most exciting match we played. However, we lost 19 – 17. It was a real cliffhanger. Even though Pablo piloted the robot around the field and held two of the highest scoring robots to 19 points was exciting, realizing how much of an advantage the “intelligence team” gave us made this almost victory a real team effort.

We lost our final match and our record was 3 wins, 3 losses and 1 tie. We were hoping to have a winning record, but at least we did not have a losing one.

There was a little disappointment, but it was short lived as championship matches played out. We knew we did not have a robot of the caliber of some of those in the final matches. As we all sat in the stands, the kids were coming up with ideas to make a better robot next year!

We waited patiently for the end of the games when they would announce the big award, the Chairman’s Award. Award after award was announced and then the final presentation. We were all SO EXCITED! They said there were three runner ups and in team numerical order they were 365, 503, 842. Team 842 is us. The kids were shocked. We really thought we would win the top award. Team 111 was the winner and as they read their accomplishments, it was apparent that the team had been doing great things for many years. With only five years of seniority, we are still newcomers to the FIRST league. Elizabeth spoke for all of us when she said, “I felt like the world came crushing down on us, smothering our hopes and dreams. I felt especially bad for the seniors.”

(All results can be found at: )

The kids worked all year for the Chairman’s Award and they were disappointed. The trudge back over the hill to the hotel with our equipment was actually therapeutic. There is a final party at the Olympic Centennial Park, and with some prodding we all went. After some exercise and some food, we were all in far better spirits and we were already proposing plans for nest year.

We will have to spread the message of FIRST which is to increase our society’s awareness of the role science and technology plays and how important it is to expose our young people to the rewarding careers available to them. We can’t do anything about the seniority of other teams, but we will do more to motivate our students and the young people we affect. The 2007 season has begun.

Sunday we went to the Atlanta Aquarium and we will have our “blow out” dinner at the Hard Rock CafĂ© in the evening. Our new friend Anita is taking us to her video production facilities Monday morning and then we will return to Phoenix in the evening.

When we return to school we will focus our efforts on our underwater ROV and get ready for the MATE underwater remotely operated vehicle challenge at Houston’s Johnson Space Center’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab.

Just like the kids we work with, we are a relatively young team maturing at an accelerating rate. We heal fast and we seem to thrive if we are kept active. And we have a lot of great people watching over us.


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