Members of the Kentridge High School Robotics Club travel to St. Louis next week to compete in the FIRST world championships.
Kentridge is the first Kent School District team to qualify for world competition, said Nick Boyce, the club’s adviser. It is also the team’s first world robotics appearance since 2011 when the club was created.
Kentridge qualified based on its performance at two local competitions earlier this year and at the Pacific Northwest district championships April 6-9 in Portland, Ore.
About 900 teams from 39 countries take part in the world championship, April 27-30. The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) stage is designed for high school-aged teams to compete head to head on a special playing field with robots they have built and programmed.
The team was excited to learn it would be going to St. Louis, Boyce said. Ten students from the approximately 25-member team will make the trip.
“We had two pretty awesome weekends (of competition) and one where we struggled a bit so we weren’t sure (if they would qualify),” he said.
Additional points are given to teams for awards they receive in the competition. Kentridge won the Engineering Inspiration Award at the one of its local competitions for the volunteer work the club does at elementary schools teaching children about robotics. At the district championship, Kentridge received the Judges Award.
“They saw our stuff and decided based off all our work, all our outreach, decided we would get that,” Boyce said.
Receiving those awards helped boost the team’s scores, Boyce said.
Each January, the theme for the year’s competition is announced and teams have six weeks to build their robots. This year’s course, Stonghold, is a castle quest where two three-team alliances try to breach their opponents’ fortifications, weaken their tower with boulders and capture their tower.
“We are not allowed to really be working on our robot too much between now and then (the world competition),” Boyce said.
The team has spent the past week preparing to travel to St. Louis – purchasing plane tickets, booking hotels and building a custom shipping box to transport Mudcrab, the team’s robot.
Students in the club help secure funding through corporate sponsors and grant writing. Kent School District Career and Technical Education covered the team’s $5,000 entry fee for the world competition, Boyce said.