On November 14, Team SPORK competed in our school’s NovemberFest Chili Cook-Off. This is the first year our team has competed in the cook off, and it was a good way to reach out to our school and spread the word of FIRST. We had multiple generous donations throughout the night and had the chance to spread the word of FIRST to many students from K-12.
Team SPORK was given the opportunity to participate in the Barnes & Noble Mini-Maker Faire on Sunday, November 8. Students were able to share some information about FIRST and what Team SPORK is about with children and adults. We even held a mini robot design competition and gave the winners a SPORK shirt. It was a great opportunity to see the interest in STEM from people and teach them how they could help. It was overwhelming to see the amount of people who wanted to know how to help with FIRST and get their children involved in FIRST programs. Many adults were impressed to find out that a group of high school students were designing, building, and programming a robot in 6 weeks.
The Great Chili Cook-off is an annual event that was held on October 31 this year and hosted by The Rotary Clubs of Mooresville Lake-Norman, Mooresville, Top of the Lake and Troutman to benefit local charities. Top of the Lake Rotary Club president, Jeremy Katz, invited Team SPORK high school robotics team to provide some reliable hands and feet to support the event. The event raised $50,000 and had tons of fun things to enjoy like listening to the Back Road Band, shopping at local vendors booths, eating treats from local vendors and of course, tasting 50 different recipes of chili. Kids had their own “zone” to play in where some of our Team SPORK seniors volunteered their help. Team SPORK volunteers also spent the first part of the event running between competing chili vendors delivering cups, napkins and whatever else a chili contestant needed. Of course, none of that kept them from trying all of the chili too!
On October 10, our team had the chance to present at a Mini Maker Faire. A small group of us journeyed out to Charlotte’s Discovery Place with our trusty old Shooter McGavin from Rebound Rumble. We displayed our homemade 3D printers and created Team SPORK logos to give out, along with our pins and flashlights. While children fell in love with our robots and printers, parents and educators from other cities, counties, and even states fell in love with the program. We talked to countless individuals about starting their own Jr FLL, FLL, FTC, and FRC teams in their own schools and communities.
On October 9 and 10, Team SPORK traveled to Reidsville High School in Reidsville, NC to participate in NC THOR. NC THOR is an off-season competition and a good way to reconnect with other FRC teams. On October 9 some team members went to unload SPORK-Lift and our pit. Later, they attended the social where team members got to play games with other teams and make friends. Team SPORK initiated a Twister tournament among the present teams and took part in a very serious games of Jenga.
The next morning more team members drove to Reidsville to help and support SPORK-Lift in the competition. We competed with other North Carolina robotics teams in qualification rounds immediately, which gave us a chance to train for quick competitions and working with others. This was our first of-season event in a few years, and gave us a chance to re-kindle relationships with North Carolina teams and develop new relationships with other teams. We look forwards to next year’s competition, as well as the 2016 THOR event.
This competition marked a milestone for Team SPORK, which was the first time being a captain of a playoff team. Team SPORK ended up being the number 6 seed, after being ranked ninth and moving up through the selection process. Our alliance consisted of Team 279-Tech Fusion and 5492- Winner’s Circle Robo Jockeys. Working together with our alliance members, we put up a tough battle against the number 4 seeded alliance. As a whole, our team competed and performed much better at this regional than North Carolina. We perfected our strategies for the game, how we scout other teams, and our use of Tableau for strategy.
Our team had a great season this year, and we look forward to next year’s challenge as well as other team’s designs to tackle the game. We are taking this year to look at other’s designs, and improve on how our design process will change for next year and in the years to come.
Team SPORK’s hard work and preparation paid off at the North Carolina Regional. We were able to make it to the semifinals on Friday afternoon after being selected for the third alliance with 1533 Triple Strange and 5511 Cortechs Robotics. It is a first in the history of our team that we have gone all the way to the semi-finals. Our drive team and robot performed outstanding throughout the whole competition. Our strategy and scout team did an amazing job watching matches, talking to teams, and building relationships with other teams. They used a new software for scouting and strategy called FRC Scout along with Tableau. We recommend this software to teams, it works very well and gave us get plenty of information about other robots and teams.
For the third time, SPORK won the Imagery Award in honor of Jack Kamen for having outstanding attractiveness in engineering, visual aesthetic, integration of machine, and team appearance. Mrs Moloney was our Woodie Flowers Award nominee for leading, inspiring, teaching, and empowering the team using excellent communication skills. Our Co-Captain Nate Turk, a junior, went on to become a Dean’s List Award finalist. He won this prestigious award for exemplifying exceptional student leadership skills, with passion effectiveness at attaining FIRST ideals. Nate will be attending the Championship Competition in St Louis, Missouri from April 22 to 25. We were also awarded with a Team Spirit Award from Team 587 Hedgehog Robotics, for having outstanding team spirit throughout the competition.
Everyone is looking forward to our next competition, the Smoky Mountain Regional in Knoxville, Tennessee.