Rounding the Robot Bases

The Arthridroids team members (from left: Dawson Clem, Shane Sims, Madison Cox, C.J. Dormido, Jessica Whitehead, Micah Cook, and Danny Brady) pose at home plate in Busch Stadium before a Cardinals game.

Posts from an inspiring week with the Arthridroids in St. Louis

News editor Jeff Brady, whose son is on the Skagway team, accompanied Team Arthridroids as a chaperone to the World Festival in St. Louis. He blogged on the Skagway News Facebook page during the event. Here’s a look back for those who missed the excitement.

By JEFF BRADY

April 22
The Skagway to St. Louis adventure begins now. I'm traveling with the Alaska state champion FLL Team Arthridroids from Skagway on the way to Lego Robotics World Festival in Missouri. We fly this afternoon from Juneau, then are on an overnighter from Seattle to Chicago to St. Louis. Hopefully the rains will have passed by then and there will be no flooding in the city. The Alaskans are coming and we are seeking sun and spirited competition! I'll post a schedule Tuesday after our arrival. The festival starts Wednesday and runs through Saturday.

Presenting to the judges, above, and then talking to more core values judges at their Alaska booth. All this effort resulted in a second place core values award.

April 24
Yesterday we arrived in Saint Louis about 8:30 am and then rested for a bit and were off to the Gateway Arch in the afternoon. We hit the weather just right between rain storms for good views from the top, and then walked quickly back in the driving rain 8-10 blocks to our hotel, where the kids went swimming. That pretty much wore them out. We had dinner around the corner at a little Italian place, and most of us were ready to fall into our plates. We were all in bed by 9 p.m. and are now ready to go after 12 hours sleep. Fairly easy day ahead with setting up our booth around noon. The America's Center is just across the street from us. It had big LEGO signs all over it welcoming the World Festival participants. It is connected to the big Edward Jones Dome. We will be in a four-table area in the very middle of the convention center with teams from Russia, Jordan and Houston, Texas. We have lots of Skagway stuff to give out to teams. Opening ceremonies are tonight, then the non-robot competitions are tomorrow. Their state champion project created a neoprene suit with hot pockets for arthritis-sensitive areas, and their robot competes on the "Senior Solutions"-themed course.

April 25
Team danced the "Harlem Shake" at opening ceremonies last night in the Edward Jones Dome and watched several international teams perform dances. The ceremony capped off a day of setting up our pit and then greeting teams from all over. The kids exchanged pins and buttons as they made the rounds around the America's Center. We are in a section backing up to a team from Russia, so we really can see Russia from Alaska! Today is a fairly full day. The team just headed over to the dome for its first robot practice round, and then will have a short break before another round. This gives the teams and the referees time to get used to the pits and simulated competition before the main event tomorrow. Then at noon we will be before the judges in the convention center rooms for our project, robot design, and core values presentations. The kids have practiced well and we are confident they will do great. We will be done about 3 p.m. and plan to head to a rib joint for dinner.

Working "Ready Tready" in the robot pit in the Edward Jones Dome, and posing with the Mars Lady at one of the social gatherings.

April 26
It's Robot Competition day in Saint Louis and the kids are up and pumped! They will have lots of time on the practice table this morning before the main event this afternoon. We are in the dome and on the board at noon, and then again at 2:05 and 3:30 p.m.. The presentations before the judges went well yesterday and the kids explored some of the new Mindstorm EV3 robots from Lego, the next generation that the team hopes to acquire over the summer. I have some amazing video of the world record Rubik's cube solving robot. The video is only a few seconds long. I'll post tonight with some more photos after the Cardinals vs. Pirates game. But for now it's 3...2....1....Lego - go Ready Tready!
First robot round score 308. Robot ran perfectly on 4 of the 5 missions, but a wire that was not quite tucked in far enough caused it to be a little off on the mission that knocks balls off the center; instead of knocking the balls into our zone, it hit them into the other team's zone and they got all our points. We would have been well over 400 if that had not happened. But kids were very happy with the first run. Next one will be up at 2:05 pm central time on table 5 in the dome if you are in the neighborhood. Then on table 4 at 3:30 p.m. Shorter turnaround time then so will post score from the dome on the iPad. We are also keeping our fingers crossed on another front; the core values judges have been back to visit us a lot today, and the kids have been very good ambassadors at our booth. They are now working with another team on an Alliance fun project during their down time till the next robot event. All for now.
Round 2 score 376, have moved up from 33rd to 24th place out of 80 teams, NASA channel was televising earlier, so check out all the action there. Final round for Skagway at 12:30 AK time on table 4, hoping to end up in top 20.
Final robot run done, looks like 376 will be our top score today, missed a couple things on last run and scored 235. Currently in 30th place.
Winning score was 605 by the China team, and about 10 teams scored in the 500s, and another 10 in the 400s. We had a shot for a score between 400 and 500, so 376 was a pretty good run. Final tally puts Skagway in 31st place out of 80 teams. We will hope for some other award tomorrow, but tonight the focus shifts to baseball at Busch Stadium. All of the robot kids will get to go on the field before the game so they are getting pumped for that. Looks like the rain has moved through and a good night ahead.

April 27
Second place core values inspiration award!!! The judge makes the announcement to the packed convention center ballroom, highlighting the “exemplary team spirit,” how they volunteered in community, inspired others by reaching out to other students with their popcorn program, and mentored other Alaska teams throughout the season. “They have a true understanding of core values.”
Here’s a comment from the Skagway coaches: “Thank you again Skagway senior citizens, our most generous community and Skagway Swap for your help to learn about obstacles seniors face, financial support, neoprene donations, practice support and for cheering us on! A special thank you to Ginny Cochran for being our mentor and senior partner and to all Skagway seniors who helped the team with their research project! The Arthridroids Robotics team won Juneau regionals, state in Anchorage, and today we won the 2nd Place Core Values Teamwork Inspiration Award! Thank you Skagway!” – Mary Thole & Greg Clem
The kids are pumped after getting their photos taken. For a moment they huddle with Thole who goes over scores on the judges sheets.
Greg: “Impressive!”
Mary: “You did a fantastic job…on everything… The one you won your award…. 100% across the board and you were considered for all three awards: gracious professionalism, teamwork and inspiration.”
I ask the kids what they think was the key to their success:
Shane and Jessica – “A lot of cheering.”
Danny and Micah– “Positive feedback, helping the team from Eagle River.”
CJ – “Teamwork.”
Maddy – “Telling them what sets us apart from other teams.”
Dawson – “Helping out.”

A proud team with their awards.