CVHS hosts second annual FIRST robotics competition

“Three, two, one, Lego!”

The announcer’s voice was followed immediately by the sounds of whizzing noises of programmed Lego-crafted contraptions, the roars of the crowd as people rooted for their favorites, and breathless competitors as they watched anxiously.

As an onlooker, you might have thought you stumbled upon Nerd-a-palooza, but this wasn’t just a scene of robots racing through obstacles to win coveted awards. It was a gathering of young minds ignited by a passion for engineering, and an experience that shows the significance of cooperation and responsibility.

This event was the second annual For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Lego League (FLL) Robotics Competition held in the CVHS cafeteria on Nov. 19. The competition was directed toward kids in grades four through eight. This year’s competition was conducted by Bill Nott, Castro Valley Rotary Club President and Silicon Valley Regional Planning Committee Chair for FIRST, with the aid of many volunteers including Interact and the FIRST Robotics Space Cookie Team. The purpose of this program was to enhance knowledge about science, math, technology, and engineering while learning about team-building.

When asked what made him want to be a part of FLL, Nott responded: “I enjoy seeing the kids excited with engineering. I was an engineer myself so I like watching their fascination. I also wanted to help introduce kids into engineering so it can be a possibility as a career in the future.”

The tournament consisted of two parts. The first involved the competitors placing their robots in front of a panel of judges to compete for awards. The second was a field competition where the competitors’ robots went through a series of obstacles like toppling towers or retrieving fish and balls. The difficult thing about the competition was that it was a parents-free event where only the kids were able to build the machines and compete, without any adult interference. It was a long day of intense battles, lasting from nine to four, but everyone loved the friendly competition.

“We’re competing in this event to learn about teamwork. We get a once in a lifetime experience out of it and that drives us,” commented a member of SAP4Robots, one of the competing teams.

Senior Lindsey Matheney, a member of the FIRST Robotics Space Cookie Team, which consists of girls from around the bay, knew the feeling the competitors felt.

“It’s fascinating that I can build such a robot. I didn’t believe I could do this on my own, being a girl, but it proves that girls can do anything,” said Matheney. Her team competes in the FIRST Robotics Competition, an event for high-schoolers.

After a seven-hour-long struggle to capture first place, only six teams were deemed successful. The SAP Cheesebots, Techno Wiz’z, Legofreaks101, and All Stars received the awards determined by the judges (the Robot Design Award, Project Award, Core Values Award, and Judges Award respectively). The Robot Performance Award was given to the Blockheads for their triumph in the field competition. The most coveted award, though, was the Championship Award, which was achieved by the Fremont Chunky Monkeys, who surpassed the competition by being the best in front of all the judges as well as placing second in the field competition.