RAGE Robotics, based at Tolland High School, took first place this past weekend at the North Shore District competition in Reading, Mass. Forty high school robotics teams from all across New England came together for two days of head-to-head matches between robots to determine who had the best robot and drive team. The winning alliance of teams included RAGE (173); Overclocked (246) from Boston, Mass.; and rookie team The Outliers (5687) from Portland, Maine.
In this year’s FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) challenge, teams had six weeks to design, build, and program a robot to play Recycle Rush. In the game (played on a 27’ x 54’ field), teams remotely operating their robots had to stack one-foot-tall plastic totes up to six high on special scoring platforms. They could triple their stack score by additionally placing a full-size recycling container on top of the pile. Teams could also earn points by placing “litter” (pool noodles) inside the recycling container and by throwing them into their opponent’s zone.
High school students work side by side with teachers, experienced engineers, and parents to learn STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts in a hands-on environment throughout the school year. The robots can measure up to 28” by 42” by 78” high and weigh as much as 120 pounds. Matches are played between alliances made up of three teams each (six robots on the field). The alliance makeup varies match to match, so requires the teams to work with each other in addition to against each other.
During its six-week build season, which lasted all of January and half of February, RAGE had to deal with multiple snow-day cancellations, a high school evacuation and closure which forced to the team to move its entire build operation to another site for several days, and a sharply reduced budget for parts and supplies. Even through these adversities, the team came together to create a highly functional robot and a very effective drive team.
RAGE will be competing again in the Hartford District competition taking place March 28 and 29 at Hartford Public High School, then in the New England District Championship on April 9–11 at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
RAGE (Robotics And Gadget Engineering) is made up of high school students from Tolland, Ellington, Vernon, East Hartford, Manchester, and surrounding towns. The team is a member of the nonprofit FIRST organization, which promotes science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to students of all ages through various types of robotics programs. In the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), teams of high school students are given a new challenge each January and then have six weeks to design and build a robot to meet that challenge. The 2014/2015 school year marks RAGE’s 20th anniversary. The team is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity that relies solely on corporate sponsorship and receives no funding from the schools or towns. More information is at http://ragerobotics.com.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen in an effort to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. Programs exist for students of all ages from first grade through high school. See http://usfirst.org for more information.