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FTC Super-Qualifier & State Championship

2 Teams Qualify for State Championships

By Jim Blankman

February 04, 2017

IKM-Manning had a middle school girl's team and a high school boy's team qualify for the FTC Super Qualifier tournament this year.  Then they performed well enough to qualify for the FTC State Championships in Coralville, Iowa on February 24th and 25th . The middle school team includes Macie Doyel, Jessica Thomssen, Tina Thomssen, Bailey Cantrell, and Sierra Ferry. Zachary Spoelstra and Grant Behrens make up the high school team.

 

To qualify the teams had to compete with the top 24 teams from western Iowa (west of I35) and north of Highway 20 extending to the Mississippi River.  Team 10256 the Jr. High girls finished in 6th place overall after 30 matches concluded.  They qualified in the 8th position to advance to the State Championships.  Team 8649 the High School boys finished in 14th overall and advanced in the 15th position to state.  The State Championships will include the top 48 teams in Iowa.

 

The girls have been extremely consistent all year finishing 2nd in the league during the regular season, 3rd overall in league championships and were the Captains of the Winning Alliance making them overall League Champions.  The girls finished 6th in the Super Qualifier and qualified to be an Alliance Captain.  The boys continued to improve the robot performance and are now capable of lifting the Cap Ball and hope to place it on top of the structure in the championships.

 

FTC is where students spend many hours designing and programming robots to complete a challenge as created by the FTC officials.  The tournament is set up in rounds throughout the day.  A list is created where each team is given an alliance team to communicate, collaborate, problem solve, in order to strategize for winning a match. The goal for each match is to collect as many ranking and qualifying points to win matches. In order to keep team points there is a red and/or blue team. During each match there are two time-limited, competitive matches where team points are calculated. The first part of the match the paired red/blue teams compete autonomously. The robot is preprogrammed to push a large ball off the center vortex as well as getting the robot parked on a vortex.  The second part of the match is where each paired team has one or two members drive their robot remotely and score points by hitting and protecting beacons.  In addition to this activity the teams work to cap a big ball off the floor using a wall and/or on a ramp before the time runs out. At the end of the match points are calculated and the teams are released to go work on their robots and collaborate with others to improve their game.  The last round of the tournament is where the top teams get to choose alliance teams to compete in final matches. The points obtained at the end of the round determine who the tournament winners include and move on to the next level of competition.  This format occurs

at all meets up through the World Championships.  During the League Championship, Super Qualifier, State Championship, Super Regional, and World Championship the teams will interview with judges about their engineering notebook and the process of building, programming, collaborating, financing and promoting the robots.  They discuss team dynamics and gracious professionalism, because FTC is about working together with all teams to provide the best possible outcome.  Our kids have been helped by other teams in programming and building their robots and they in turn have helped other teams problem solve issues with their robots.  The point of the program is for everyone to collaborate and improve from match to match, meet to meet and season to season because your alliance is only as good as your partners.  We didn't always have the best and most spectacular robot but our teams have been recognized for being very good at what they do and the fact that they consistently do it each and every match which make them a great partner in an alliance.  

 

The kids may not notice all of the finer things of this competition, but FTC is so much more than the operation of a robot.  The perseverance, determination, hard work, dedication, thought process and hours of work that goes into a season is unbelievable and the whole time the kids just think they are goofing off by playing with a robot at school.  This program is definitely not for everyone, 29 kids showed up for the first meeting. Students soon learn the challenges to FTC. The facts are that they have no instruction manual, no one is going to instruct them as to how to put things together, and they have to put a lot of thinking together for the robot to work.  These challenges are much too difficult for some and they soon find other priorities.  The students that finish the season truly are problem solvers, collaborate with others, have dedication, are creative, and will be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.  

Colleges, universities and businesses are extremely excited about the students that participate in FIRST programs.  They say students in these programs enter college or the workforce out of high school better prepared than traditional students because the students have skills that cannot be learned in the classroom.  Post secondary schools and corporations are so interested in developing these school programs they continue to go to great efforts in providing large amounts of financial support.

A large portion of our program is generously funded by the IKM-Manning Foundation Enhancement Committee, which provides funds to purchase robotic supplies and equipment, and pay registration fees.  Mid American Energy supplied our teams with a grant for  $1425, DMACC funded team 10256 a $500 scholarship, Iowa Central Community College provided 5- $300 scholarships for all members of team 10256 (Bailey Cantrell,  Ferry, Jessica Thomssen, Tina Thomssen and Macie Doyel) for being League Champions at the League Championships, and Rockwell Collins along with the Iowa STEM program provided funding of nearly $10,000 to get this program started in our school.  The students, coaches, parents and everyone involved in the FTC programs would like to thank everyone who has contributed in any manner for their generous support in the “hardest fun you could ever have”!

 

 

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