TJ Robotics students now have an official practice field of play for the upcoming First Tech Challenge Block Party.
Teachers unveil the practice field of play for the upcoming competition. photo by Eileen Adair
Robotics teachers and parents spent a recent Saturday building and assembling an exact replica of the First Tech Challenge Block Party field of play. Students will have access to this practice field from now until the regional competitions in December and January.
“It’s unusual for schools to have the entire field of play at their fingertips. Thanks to our resources and some great volunteers, our students will have no surprises come competition day,” explained Matt Spampinato, CCTM director and Robotics instructor.
To learn more about the challenge and visualize how the field of play works, visit the Block Party Challenge Animation.
The Saturday work day included building and assembling the ramp, the hanging bar, the teeter-totters with baskets, the red/blue team divisions, and the flagpoles for the corners of the field. Working in small groups, the build team was able to efficiently accomplish the task at hand. Based on the focus of Robotics, it was fitting that teamwork was involved in creating the practice field. It was important to have teachers and parents help build, as it was a good way to show their support for the hard-working students.
The payoff could be seen on the students’ faces the first time they walked in and saw the field on Monday morning. The challenge and competition rules have been on their minds, but having a visual brings it one step closer to reality: “The students have been imagining what the competition will be like, but now some of them have different design ideas based on being able to use measurements on the actual field. I think using this practice field will really help our chances for success,” said Eileen Adair, Robotics instructor.
Speaking of success, teams now have an extra incentive to be the first to accomplish the task of having their robot hang from the bar. Principal Ms. Suzanne Morris-Sherer is going to provide a prize to the members of the first team in each of the three classes to accomplish this task: “You know I’m a competitive person, and we want TJ to be the best at everything it does! So I thought it would be fun to put a valuable prize on the line to push teams to be their very best.” The prize is a mystery at this point, but Spampinato likens it to the gold Doubloon nailed to the mast in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.
As Spampinato said, “Who doesn’t want to be the first team to ‘see the whale’ and earn that gold coin? That’s what it’s all about!”
Stay tuned for the prize winners, photos, videos, and reports on how the students are progressing with this challenge.