Washington Evening Journal
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The Washington County 4-H Club First Tech Challenge team, the Eaglebots, competed in their league championship in Bettendorf on Jan. 8 with 26 teams. There are several league championships being hosted around the state to select teams who will advance to Super Qualifier.
After 33 matches the top 4 teams are selected to choose 3 additional teams to compete as an alliance in the final matches which gives them all opportunity for more points. Throughout the day, the Eaglebot team was able to communicate to the top teams their strengths to compete with their team.
Of the chosen top teams Raw Bacon of Iowa City choose the Eaglebots to compete in their alliance along with Shmizmin of Dubuque. Teams were scrambling to get their robots operational for the final matches with parts being exchanged from other teams for repairs. In the first match Raw Bacon and Shmizmin were on the field. Raw bacon had robot trouble; where the Eaglebots were put in to compete. In true form the Eaglebots and Shmizmin won their match.
Raw Bacon came back in the second match with Shmizmin to win with slot machine numbers in the best of 2 out of three. The final matches were with the winners of the other 2 alliances. In the end, the Eaglebots alliance put up a strong performance still to lose to The Winter Soldiers, UBett, and Nut and Bolt.
From the many awards in design, innovation, control and winning alliance 12 teams advanced to the Super Qualifier. The Eaglebots advanced this year to the Super Qualifier as a winning alliance.
The game is played with two teams as an alliance against another alliance. In match play, each round in the competition is divided into three scoring opportunities: 1. Autonomous Period (pre-programmed instructions and sensor inputs to robot) 2. Driver-Controlled Period (similar to video game controlling) 3. End Game (also driver controlled but with certain point earning tasks assigned). Scoring opportunities come in correctly moving and position a cube, ball, or duck, which are placed on trays of different height on the freight hub.
The Eaglebots have met weekly since October to learn programming, build their robot and continually improve its design from lessons learned in league matches. The First Tech Challenge teams work like industry engineering projects in the funding, design concepts, promotion and documentation.
The club is led by 4-H volunteers Jim Pitcher, Kelley Hough, Joe Ruva and Trevor Conrad who mentor the team. In addition to STEM, the First Tech Challenge robotic experience teaches engineering and programming skills, teamwork and communication.
The team looks forward to Feb. 5 where they will compete with 24 teams in the Super Qualifier. At the Qualifier, 16 teams will advance to the State Championship.
For more information on how to support the robotics team or Washington County 4-H’ers, contact Amy Green at the Washington County Office, 319-653-4811. See “Washington County 4-H — Iowa” on Facebook for more pictures of the Jan. 23 competition.