By Jeremy Pittari, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
Students and mentors with Pearl River County’s Team CHAOS are preparing to build a robot that will suit their strengths.
This year’s competition will be a variation of Disk Golf, or Frisbee golf, but instead of people throwing Frisbees into chain lined goals, the robots will do the majority of the scoring.
According to the rules on the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology website, teammates will have the option for their robot to throw disks at the goals or to prevent another team from making goals. The robots are center stage.
This year’s game, entitled “Ultimate Ascent” features two skeletal pyramid structures at opposing ends of the field of play. Disk Golf-like goals sit atop each pyramid, and other chain-lined goals are positioned at the ends of either side of the field. Points are earned by successfully getting a disk into a goal. More points are earned with each goal according to the level of difficulty.
Points also can be earned by having a robot climb the skeletal pyramid to the highest level possible at the end of the match. Again, more points are earned the higher the robot climbs. Each team can choose to focus on scoring by throwing the disks into goals or getting their robot to climb the highest or they can choose to forgo scoring and just block other robots from scoring.
Team CHAOS plans to focus their robot on climbing, rather than the other options. Team member Nicholas Mahoney said the team has chosen to climb rather than throw disks due to the potential for larger point earnings.
“It’s going to be so hard to build a shooter if you don’t have the experience,” Mahoney said.
A large number of rookie teams are expected to join the FIRST fold this year, which Mahoney believes will result in a lot of teams building robots with a focus on blocking, making shooting even more difficult, Mahoney said.
With less than six weeks left to build a robot there is no time to try to build a versatile robot that can shoot and climb, but team member Colin Rust believes the team will try to implement a mechanism to drop disks into easier goals.
Some of the construction techniques used in last year’s robot will reappear in building this year’s robot. Mahoney would only elaborate on one such technique, the method that the team plans to use to drive the robot. Additional details were intentionally kept close to the team’s chest to ensure opposing teams use their own methods in constructing their robots.
The popularity of the robotics team in Pearl River County has grown, with the team effectively doubling membership over last year’s, Rust said. Team mentor and Picayune school district teacher Maureen Pollitz said she’s been able to implement a robotics class, which has enabled the team to see its efforts at building the team as well as the robot grow in success. Friday afternoon the newest team members were helping in the construction of a homemade skeletal pyramid, which will be used for training purposes when the robot is complete.
In keeping with the FIRST motto of “Gracious Professionalism,” Team CHAOS, also known as Team 1421, has formed collaborative relationships with neighboring teams, including Team 2080 in Hammond, Team 456 in Vicksburg and Team 1912 in Slidell.