FLL 2005 wrap



Exciting fall season for Sharon Eagle Robotics
Sharon Advocate - Friday, January 13, 2006

The Sharon Youth Robotics Association (SYRA) has just wrapped up competition in the 2005 FIRST LEGO League (FLL) season.

Five Sharon teams met the FLL Ocean Odyssey robotics challenge; meeting and working as individual teams and as a multi-team group, as well as competing at the town, regional and state levels.

The 2005 season teams are the Sharon Eagle Robotic Chimps, Devil-Bots, DoodleBots, Fish'n'Chips and Motorized Fishes. Each team designed and built a robot from LEGO Mindstorms kits, built attachments and wrote programs in order to perform the various tasks that were part of the challenge, and went on to pit their robots against others to see who could score the most points in qualifiers and tournaments in Sharon, Upton, Quincy and Worcester.

The Blackstone regional tournament in Upton was a very successful day for the Sharon teams. The three qualifying teams - the DoodleBots, Devil-Bots and Motorized Fishes - all finished in the top half of the field of 64 in the morning seeding rounds.

The single-elimination afternoon competition started strong, and the DoodleBots team made it to the third round. All performed well, and the DoodleBots team came away with the Team Spirit award!

At the Quincy/Gillette Eastern MA FLL tournament, the qualifying team - the Robotic Chimps - finished fourth in the morning seeding rounds. The single-elimination afternoon best-of-16 competition was unlucky for the Chimps, with a low first run score finishing their challenge at 12th overall. Despite the single unfortunate round, it was a great showing by the Robotic Chimps, and more great things are expected from this team next year.

In Worcester, at the RoboNautica Central MA FLL tournament, the qualifying teams - the Motorized Fishes and Devil-Bots - finished 14th and 9th in the morning seeding rounds.

The single-elimination afternoon competition was hard fought, with both teams performing well, but not quite reaching the final three. All the team members did well, and made their mentors and coaches proud.

After last spring's successful participation at the first world competition in Atlanta, three FIRST VEX Challenge (high school level) teams have all been active in the fall 2005 season.

Some FVC team members have contributed all fall with the Sharon Eagle Robotics Mentors team, composed of FLL alumni who have helped to orient and advise the FLL teams this season, as well as helping with the association-wide meetings.

The AngelBots and the Xiphoid team participated in the WPI "Savage Soccer" competition, with the Xiphoid team finishing in the #2 alliance and winning the autonomous award.

The Unlimited team has concentrated on promoting the new FVC program at all the Massachusetts FLL tournaments, for the benefit of the teams that will be too old to continue with FLL next season (grades 4-8), with both an information table and a 2-on-2 robotic soccer field for the teams to try. All three teams are now focused on their entries for the spring 2006 FVC pilot competition, with a regional competition in Hartford in March.

The Sharon Youth Robotics Association is a community organization, and welcomes the participation of all Sharon youth. The association is indebted to both the Sharon Public Library and the Sharon Girl Scouts for providing meeting space during this past season. Consider joining the SYRA in the 2006-7 season to get in on the fun and achievement.

Watch the team's Web site, www.syraweb.org for on-going updates and information about the teams and competitions.

The FIRST ("For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology") program aspires "to create a world where science and technology are celebrated . . . where young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes", according to founder Dean Kamen, a prominent inventor and technologist. FIRST completions are often referred to as "Sports for the Mind", and some of the hardest fun you'll ever love!

The FIRST LEGO League was created in partnership between FIRST and the LEGO Company in 1998 (the pilot season) with 200 teams participating, and Sharon has been represented since 1999. This past fall, more than 6,000 FLL teams all over the world accepted the "Ocean Odyssey" challenge (themed to address issues of the world's oceans), engaging them in robotics design, as well as technological and social research

The FIRST Vex Robotics Challenge was created in partnership between FIRST and Radio Shack in spring 2005 (the demo season) with 50 teams participating, and Sharon was in at the start. Spring 2006 will see the "Half-Pipe Hustle" pilot season, with around 300 teams competing and six regional competitions.

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