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Robotics World Championship

Oklahoma students travel to St. Louis, Mo., to compete in what has been called the Super Bowl of Smarts.
Robotics World Championship

Robotics World Championship

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Show Details

Show 1411: Robotics World Championship
Air Date: March 16, 2014



Rob McClendon: Well, this year’s world competition brought in teams from all around the globe to Saint Louis, Mo., the absolute best and the brightest from around the planet, one of which was Oklahoma’s own little Rainbow Robots.

Alisa Hines: Welcome to St. Louis, Mo. Four hundred teams from around the world, including the Rainbow Robots. Dressed in their rainbow tutus, the girls start putting their project together. And despite Veronica’s previous worries –

Veronica Stevens: Let me put it this way, everything’s going to break once we get there.

Alisa: -- all it’s taking is a little teamwork to assemble. And now it’s time for showing off their ideas.

Hal Stevens: And it’s amazing how the kids don’t really see it from an adult point of view. They don’t really see it as, “Oh, it’s us against them.” They see it as, “Wow, they did something really neat. That’s really cool. Maybe we can learn from that and do that next time when we build something.”

Alisa: And such camaraderie is even evident when they present before the judges. An excitement not just about their project, but what they learned while doing it.

Ramier Shaik: They told me even before that they want to be engineers now. So the prospect, the whole prospect that they are thinking about their careers when they’re 4, 5 years old, and they see a viable career in engineering or they can see themselves doing this itself is, you know, mind blowing, right?

Andy Barth: Which is a pretty common sentiment at the world competition.

David Barlow: I think it’s pretty exciting. It’s huge compared to what I thought it would be.

Andy: David Barlow is from the Metal Mayhem team, sponsored by the Chickasaw Nation.

David: You see so many different robots. I mean, you see a lot at regionals and stuff. But whenever you get to world, I mean, there’s just overwhelming about how much technology is all around you. And then it’s just the size of this competition is just amazing.

Andy: And what goes up, sometimes must come down.

Alisa: So what’s wrong with it?

David: It was too high and too tall. Like whenever it’s at a certain position, this top right here which folds down, didn’t fold down far enough. So what we have to do is we have to lower this top chassis, so that way whenever it folds down it’ll be low enough.

Andy: With a little elbow grease, they’re back to the competition. The Chickasaw Nation is one of nine Oklahoma teams competing with regional winners worldwide.

Alisa: And in a surprising twist, even though Oologah High School didn’t win at the Oklahoma regional, they did win Best Rookie Team at the Arkansas regional, earning them a place at world.

Ryan Anderson: It feels amazing to be here. Everyone’s been great. This whole competition has been an amazing experience. I couldn’t imagine, I couldn’t imagine not doing it now after going through it.

Alisa: Warhorse co-captain Ryan Anderson.

Ryan: This competition doesn’t compare to regionals at all. It’s, I mean, first of all there’s 60 different countries here. It’s amazing sitting there with a Canadian team right next to us and a team from Istanbul across from us. And there’s so many teams here that we’ve come across in all of our regional events, and it’s so different, it’s, it’s insane. It’s honestly insane.

Andy: Teams from everywhere, but with one thing in common, making technology fun. Reagan Coates is a student at Gordon Cooper Tech Center and a member of team Sprockets.

Reagan Coates: Ah, it’s crazy. With a whole lot of teams, it’s a lot bigger than our regional.

Coach: And it’s so crazy, he’s got to go drive.

Reagan: Yeah!

Andy: So off to the arena to shoot it out. For Central Tech’s Oklahoma Storm, life in the arena isn’t going so well, and mentor Shane Bruce says the day could definitely be better.

Shane Bruce: It’s been an uphill battle. We come in, started real well, and then things started breaking on our robot. I mean physically break. We’ve had welds break, bearings popping off of wheels, just freak accidents. So we just keep climbing uphill but the kids are staying with it, so that’s the main thing, they’re learning from it.

Andy: Michael Tillett is with the Tri County Tech Center’s Trailblazer team and says repairs are just part of the game.

Michael Tillett: We’ve been doing really well. We had one scare when our robot encoder that controls the RPM of the wheel on our shooter actually just pretty much shattered, and so we had to go through and rework that. And we didn’t completely fix it, but we came up with a solution that works. And so that’s where we’re at, at this point.

Andy: And as Team Warhorse found out firsthand, things don’t always go your way, even the referee’s calls.

Ryan: That should have been a technical foul. They did not call it during the match. But he agreed with us afterwards that it should have been called. So we should have won that match by 19 points. But he said that they cannot change the score. He said it’s too late.

Alisa: And while nine Oklahoma teams made it to the world competition, no one qualified for the finals. And despite the frustrations along the way, their teachers say what they’ve learned throughout the whole process is more important than winning.

Danny: The hands-on learning where it brings in the science, the technology, the engineering and the math, facilitates the science, the technology, the engineering and the math.

Kristi Stricklin: It’s everything about STEM, science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These kids all come to our academy and that’s what they take. They get to see the real principles, the engineering principles applied in making it. They also learn great communication skills, which all STEM majors have to do. They have to make presentations and things like that. So it’s all about STEM.

David: I had a pretty good idea of wanting to go to OSU. But I wasn’t exactly sure if I wanted to go into mechanical engineering. Whenever I got started with First, and FRC, it actually sort of just told me, “OK, mechanical engineering is pretty cool! I think this would be a good idea and a good plan for me in the future.”

Andy: Well, now these teams have learned so much and have gone through some good times and rough times. Halfway through his first year, Oologah coach Danny Pruett told his wife he would never do this again. Now, after the competition, he can’t wait for next year.

Rob: So what’s up for the rest of the teams?

Alisa: Well, kind of back to the drawing board. You know they’ve seen how people put robots together, and they’re going to take some of those ideas and try to figure out how they can put it into their robot next year. The catch is, they have absolutely no idea what next year’s going to be about. In the past they’ve had to put balls on top of racks, they’ve had to put tires onto targets, and this year they had to climb a tower and shoot Frisbees. But next year, who knows?

Rob: Well, I certainly appreciate the work all of you all put in, and also a big special thanks goes out to the teams that let us follow them throughout. Thank you, guys.

Alisa: You’re welcome.