Meet Middle School Robotics Team 48466!

We are Vex IQ Robotics Team 48466, from Guion Creek Middle School in Indianap-olis. We build robots out of plastic parts to compete in a game with other teams. We program the little computer brain that tells the robot motors to move when the driver pushes the controller buttons. We program the robot to play the game by itself in special programming competitions. In a couple days we’ll compete with teams from around the world, because we’re going to the World Championships! This is a big deal for anyone, but it’s a really big deal for us because we’ve never gone to World’s before. We were the only urban middle school to go to the State Championships, and now we’re the only public middle school from Indiana to go to World’s.

In the robotics competitions we go to, the game changes every year. This year, your goal is to score as many points as you can. To score points, you have to place hubs into the score zones. Hubs are spool-shaped plastic things that are about 4 inches tall that our robot can push around and pick up. Hubs in the score zones are worth certain amounts of points based on the color. The orange hubs are worth one point while the yellow hubs are worth 2 points. The scoring areas can only hold 4 hubs on the base of the area. But that’s where stacking comes in. You can stack hubs on top of the previously placed hubs for double points. Another way to get points is to make the robot do a pull-up on a bar in the middle of the field. The robots can get points on the bar 3 different ways: parking under the bar (1 point), low hanging (2 points), and high hanging (4 points). Parking is when your robot is driven until it is under the bar. Low-hanging is when the robot is hanging off the ground and you can slip a piece of paper under it. High hanging is when you can get a hub under the robot.

Some robots are made of metal, but ours are made of a plastic building set with a computer brain. We use wires to connect the motors in order for the robot to move. Gears are a key part in the speed of the robot. Gear ratio is what helps certain speeds with the gears on the robot. With the correct gear ratio, the robot can move extremely fast. With a similar gear ratio on the crane, we can pick up hubs in a swift motion.

This has been a long and eventful robotics team season for us, and many things have changed since we started. I remember when I first started. Our goals that seemed like great feats at the time now look ridiculously easy, leaving the team asking why it took us a while to surpass these original goals. In our first competition, none of the teams competing did too well. The girls’ team got an award, but it was not the type that would give us the bid for state. We got the Designer Award, which is for having the best engineering notebook, where we document our problems and how we fixed them.

When we first started, there were four teams. It was also really crowded, with most of the people not coming back after maybe a week at most. I guess they didn’t think robotics was work! In the end, only four teams remained: the group with experi-enced, hard-working students from the year before, and the all-girls team. Some teams were rearranged because some people didn’t work well together, and some teams fell apart because they just came to play, and not to work. They know who they are. The all girls team, eventually merged together with the experienced team, and we are down to two teams.

Our team has gone a long way since we started out in robotics this year. It’s amazing to think that possibly one of the main reasons I joined was because of people I knew, despite how interested I was in robotics. Things have developed so much, and our team has accomplished something that was just wishful thinking before we actually made it. When we got our bid to worlds, I remember how happy everyone was. It was the first time we had ever gotten a bid to worlds, not to mention we were the most diverse school in Indiana to go to Worlds. It was also amazing that we were the only urban public middle school in the state to go. Of course we would be happy about it. Even though only one of our 2 teams made it.

The team that made it had a hard time in the previous competition, and the other team had a really bad day for points. Neither of our teams made it just looking at our points in the game.

The way we got to worlds is through the Excellence award: for doing well in every category. We had high scores in skills, programming, notebook, and STEM project. Our notebookers record data like robot advancements, drawings and photos of new parts we built, problems and how we solved them, changes in the team, and any-thing else that happens during meetings. Our STEM project was a video we made on computer encryption. Our drivers spent a lot of time practicing to get good scores in skills and to do well in alliances. Our programmers worked really hard on programs for the robot and continue to work hard now just like our drivers.

We made it to World championships because of our hard work, commitment, and behavior. Since the beginning of the year we have been working towards this mo-ment. When things need to get done, there’s no playing around. You need to be serious. We are serious, and we are seriously going to the World Championships! Wish us luck!