Lexington High Schools’ robotics team, 2 Bits and a Byte recently participated in the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis, MO. A member of the FTC or FIRST Tech Challenge Division, the team advanced to the event by winning the Massachusetts State Championships in only it’s second full season of competition. Our robot, “The Little Robot that CDR”, went 7-1 through two days of qualifying matches and finished as the number 3 seed in our 64-team bracket of the tournament. After selecting two alliance partners for the semi-finals, we lost the best 2 out of 3 to the number 2 seeded team in some very closely contested matches. Even closer than the score indicated, as our partners suggested, we really lost due to some technical issues, not because we did not have a sound strategy. The closing ceremonies presented our team with another reason to celebrate as we were one of three finalists for the PTC Design Award, which is awarded for incorporation of industrial design.
Success can be measured on many levels, yes we placed well in the tournament, were nominated for an award, even advancing to the World Championships is phenomenal, but this is my favorite story from the event. The teams first match of the tournament was played against a team that did not have an alliance partner. They did not show up, just one robot versus our two. We fairly easily won the match, and wondered how something like this could occur. Soon afterwords while our team was preparing for the next match we passed by the missing team. He (yes, a one person team) was being told, almost scolded by one of the FIRST Admin staff that he had missed his first match, and was about to miss his second if he did not get going to the fields. There were no mentors or teammates with him, just a robot frame with only three wheels, missing the 4th. Motors not connected to anything, and he was struggling to understand how to program the robot, having just flown in from Saudi Arabia. We spoke to the FIRST representatives and said may our team help him? We all agreed that we clearly must. The FIRST staff were delighted at our offer, and we had 5+ students that went to help him build a robot. Within a few hours they had finished the build, and programming such that when his teammate and mentor arrived, they were able to go to the field and compete. The students were delighted to help him, and the smile on his face when he was out there driving his robot around was priceless.