Time, strategy keys to 2018 robotics competition

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JAY — Local robotics competition participants learned Saturday via an international webcast that the 2018 theme is arcade games.

The announcement for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition provided background information and details about this year’s game, called FIRST Power Up.

Members of Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team 3930 (SMART) watched the webcast in the high school library. 

FIRST founder Dean Kamen was seen as an arcade character before transitioning to human form.

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“Use time wisely, take risks and learn from failures,” Kamen said.

He said innovation can be accelerated, but failures may occur. For every step back, take two steps forward.

FIRST teams are tasked with using robots in accessible, innovative ways. The program is aimed at building self-confidence, knowledge and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“It’s never been about the robots,” Kamen said. “We are using robots to build kids.”

This year’s game is based on the FIRST values of gracious professionalism and cooperation. “Power cubes” will represent those values and others, including inspiration, empathy, teamwork and risk-taking. 

In FIRST Power Up, two alliances of three teams will each find themselves trapped in an 8-bit video arcade game. Each alliance has three ways to defeat the boss: tip the scale or switch to earn points, exchange power cubes for various power-ups to gain temporary advantages or climb the scale wall to face the boss. The power-ups are force, boost and levitate. 

More than 3,650 teams from 27 countries will compete in one or more of almost 160 events globally this year. 

Copies of the 190-page manual were printed off after the webcast ended. Team members split into 13 categories and spent the afternoon brainstorming. 

Brainstorming will continue Sunday when the team will also start constructing mock-ups of the playing field.

“Digesting the game is always really important,” coach Dan Lemieux said. “Having a robot that can deliver cubes fast and high will be crucial.” 

Programming Co-Captain Orion Schwab said, “It’g going to be an aggressive game.”

pharnden@sunmediagroup. net

Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team 3930 members Acacia Fournier, left, and Annabelle Collins search their laptops Saturday for further information about the 2018 FIRST Robotics Competition. The arcade-game theme was announced via an international webcast. (Pam Harnden, Livermore Falls Advertiser)

Members of Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team 3930 in Jay watch a webcast Saturday to learn details about this year’s video-game-themed competition. (Pam Harnden, Livermore Falls Advertiser) 

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