New Hope sophomore Arianna Rosales and senior Elliot Mason make adjustments to their robot in a competition at New Hope High School Saturday morning. The pair are part of a three-person team, one of nine New Hope robotics teams to compete at the tournament. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff
January 22, 2018 10:32:55 AM
Arianna and Trinity Rosales stood at the ready Saturday, controllers in hand and waiting for their match to begin. The sisters weren't playing video games. They were guiding a robot they built from scratch across a 12x12-foot playing field to complete tasks and earn more points than other robots in the rink.
The pair -- Arianna a 10th grader and Trinity in 11th -- are members of a three-person robotics team at New Hope High School. Together with their third team member, senior Elliot Mason, they built a robot, capable of fitting in an 18-cubic-inch box, from steel and aluminum. The trio attached 11 motors to power the robot and programmed it to use a claw to pick up small yellow cones and place them in scoring zones.
The team competed with their robot, named Rebecca 2.0, at New Hope's VEX Robotics Competition Saturday as they vied for a spot at the 2018 Mississippi VEX State Championship.
New Hope's robotics competition attracted more than 30 teams from 12 middle and high schools across the state. Each team participated in at least six matches, said New Hope engineering and robotics teacher Kelly Soule.
A match consists of four teams competing two-on-two to complete tasks and rack up points in less than two minutes. Teams are placed into a bracket system by points scored in the rink during their six matches, and after hours of play, teams with the most points advance to semi-final rounds.
Arianna, Trinity and Mason were one of nine New Hope teams that spent weeks preparing for the tournament. Six of the nine teams will advance to the VEX state tournament at the University of Southern Mississippi in early March, though those six teams qualified for the state tournament prior to Saturday by scoring well in previous competitions.
"We practice every Monday and Tuesday for two hours," Soule said. "And then as we come up to a competition, we usually practice every day of the week two to four hours."
She said her teams even take time out of their Saturdays once a month to perfect their mechanic creations.
Arianna, Trinity and Mason named their robot Rebecca 2.0, in part because it is not the first robot they've built and most likely won't be the last.
"It's so much work to put it together," Arianna said. "There is a lot of brainstorming in the process, and you have to take it apart and re-do it. This is Rebecca 2.0 because the first one didn't go too well."
They re-configured the robot almost five times before settling on its current design. Arianna knows mistakes made now mean a better robot later.
"After so many hours of trial and error," Mason said, "once you finally have something you made do something you asked it to do, it feels great."
Even between tournament matches Saturday, the team raced from the playing field back to its workstation to fix a broken chain or tighten a loose bolt.
Though the team members got involved with New Hope robotics for different reasons -- Arianna, because she wants to be a diesel mechanic; Trinity, because she likes to build things; and Mason, because he stumbled across an engineering class at school and was hooked -- they agree the five competitions in which they have participated together have taught them "real-life" skills: teamwork, patience, strategizing and recognizing one's strengths.
"You need to work with people. You need to be social," Arianna said. "You have to work together, brainstorm and get through the problems like you would with a co-worker."
The three students will not advance to the state competition, but as one teammate noted, robotics is more than that.
"We may lose, we may win, but it's all a learning process," Trinity said.
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