San Juan 4-H robotics team takes first place
by by Miriam Peterson, the 4-H Robotics Team, and Lou Mueller
Mar 02, 2011 | 1453 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
San Juan 4-H Robotics Team with two trophies and winning robot (center).  Standing left to right: Miriam Peterson, Colten Schlegel, Joshua Peterson, Nate Fuller, Adam Rowley, and  Nathan Martin (kneeling). Courtesy photo
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San Juan’s 4-H Robotics Team won first place at a regional VEX robotics tournament held February 11 in Hyrum, UT.

This is the highest VEX award and is given to the team that has great cooperative teamwork, a good understanding of how to build and program the robot, and the highest cumulative score. Competing against 18 teams from across the state, San Juan also claimed two event trophies out of seven.

Coach and 4-H volunteer leader Miriam Peterson leads six team members, each with a specific role. Nate Fuller is the senior driver, Nathan Martin is the junior driver, Colten Schlegel is the driver coach, Joshua Peterson is the computer programmer, Adam Rowley is the lawyer /rule checker, and Trent Duke is the engineer.

The San Juan 4-H Robotics Team contributed this report:

The game is played with four robots on the large game board. Robots are paired in an alliance. The driver works a joystick (similar to a PlayStation remote) to control the robot on the game board, while the driver coach calls out commands where to drive the robot and what to do.

Robots must place plastic tubes on goal posts for two points each. The robot may also climb a 3-foot ladder, earning 10 or 20 points at the end of the match, depending on how high the robot climbed.

Our robot was able to pick up five tubes at a time, quickly place all five on goal posts, climb the ladder, and also push other robots around. They even had a tool on the back of the robot to remove tubes of the opposing team from goal posts.

In preparation for competition, they designed and built a robot. They began in May 2010 and purchased motors, screws and metal plates similar to an erector set and constructed a robot of their design.

Engineer Trent Duke, along with all team members, designed and constructed the robot. Adam Rowley read all of the fine print in the rules of the game and monitored our plans accordingly. He managed the setup of the game board and pieces and helped create a historical document logging the creative engineering process for the judges to review.

They competed in seven preliminary matches winning five of them, placing them in fourth place. In between matches, the team met with judges, repaired the robot as needed, and completed two skill challenges.

The first challenge was a programming skills challenge where the robot must operate completely autonomously. Student placed the robot on the game board, pressed start and the robot placed tubes on goal posts without any remote control.

Joshua Peterson, the programmer for our team, used computer programming code to make the robot turn, lift and drop tubes, and move as needed. He also wrote the computer code to make the joystick work. Each button must be coded in the computer to tell the robot what to do when each button is pressed. Joshua made the robot score a total of 15 points within 20 seconds.

The second challenge was a driving robotic skills challenge in which a student uses the joystick to control the robot to place tubes on the goal posts similar to the game, but without other robots on the game board. They were able to score 35 points. The best score was 50.

At the end of preliminary matches the winners of the skills challenges were announced. The local team won first place in the programming skills challenge! This earned them a trophy and qualified them to attend the National Competition in Omaha, NE. They won third place in the driving robotic skills challenge.

During one game, the robot’s driving motors stopped functioning. The senior robot driver, Nate Fuller, was able to improvise and use the tipping mechanism (normally used to tip the robot onto the ladder to climb it) to inch the robot forward by tipping, and up-righting the robot over and over, thus crawling/ limping over to one of the goal posts.

Even with obstacles in the way, he was able to tip himself close enough to the post to fling one tube onto the post in the last seconds of the game. It ended up being the only tube scored to win the match!

In trying to solve the motor failure problem, the joystick controls were accidentally all inverted, up was down, and forward was backward!

Nathan Martin, the junior robot driver, discovered the problem, and was able to compensate quickly with amazing hand-eye coordination. They won the match anyway!

Under Colten Schlegel’s excellent coaching guidance, the driver was able to quickly shift plans as Colten said to block other robots from scoring, leading to a clean win as the alliance partner was free to score some points.

For the final matches, teams chose alliance partners. One student from each team would get to choose their partner, starting with the highest ranked robot and so on down. The first place robot competitor chose the local robot to be in an alliance, thus placing them in first place as an alliance. They won our first match of the finals, 74-0. Afterwards, they beat the team in 4th place, 57-12.

They kept winning in the final rounds, until during a best of three round, they won one and lost one. On the third round, their robot climbed the ladder and hung high enough to earn 10 points—enough to win the match by eight points. But when the match ended and power was cut to the robot, it slid down a few inches, putting it a half inch too low, and they lost the match by only that half inch. They were out of the final matches then.

After the matches were over, the judges worked on scoring individual teams in order to determine the winner of the Excellence Award. They announced team #4191 as the winner of this award! This qualified the team to attend the World Competition in Orlando, FL, April 14-16. Teams from all over the globe will be there.

Please help them raise funds to attend this awesome opportunity to compete at a worldwide event. The team is trying to earn enough funds to send six team members and coach to World Competition. They will teach Lego Robotics classes to raise money, sell Tupperware and seek donations of old laptops.

Call Miriam Peterson at 435-459-9796 or Lou Mueller at 435-459-1827, if you have laptops or anything else to help. Donations can be made at Zions Bank in Monticello.
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