Posted by Jason, Coach on team #252/254, Bay Bombers/Cheesy Poofs, from Broadway High and NASA Ames.
Posted on 2/28/99 11:59 AM MST
In Reply to: Re: Judges playing it safe? posted by Mike King on 2/28/99 9:42 AM MST:
: : Interesting to note: the west coast finalist alliances both sported identical robots… some robotic darwinism at work?
: Not sure if you caught this. But Broadway high school fielded two teams at the competiion. And they both ended up in the finals on opposing teams. I’m not sure how similar each robot was to each other (i can’t see how you can build two robots in the same school, never mind how you could keep them secret from each other)
: I thought it was kinda neat that matter which team won, Broadway would have a feather in their hat. Congradualtions, for fielding not one, but two finalist teams.
Let me explain the two robots deal real quick. We are a rookie team
who knew since last years National Championships that we were going to
compete this year. Our kids have been fundraising (car washes, painting
apartments, raffles, etc…)to try to send all seven kids to Florida this
year. Our team - Bay Bombers, spent the whole year preparing for this
FIRST & NASA Ames have been trying really hard all year to get more
Western US schools involved. NASA Ames helped sponsor a number of teams,
a few of these schools knew nothing about FIRST or the competition until
2-3 weeks before the Manchester Kick-Off.
Our school is a continuation school, so being a part of an academic
competition like this is somehting most of our students never thought they
were capable of. NASA really liked the impact this program was having on
the previously labeled “high risk” students at our school and wanted to
get other disadvantaged/continuation/high risk schools involved - but it
was very last minute.
Originally, a very small school in San Jose named The Foundry was going
to have a team- but once they realized how late in the game it was, and
really found out how much time & work would be required in the next 6 weeks
they dropped out. Another school, Blackford High, had inquired about a
much smaller NASA program called BOTBALL that very week and was told of
the FIRST competition and that a team had dropped out last minute. They
are the other continuation school in this area. They were very skeptical
of entering with no preparation and with no organized team. In considering
to enter or not, they called me and asked if they could come observe our
team and our program - to talk to our kids and see if they felt the could
They decided to enter. However, immediately after the kick off, they
realized how behind they were. They had no engineer, only 3 kids, one teacher,
no funds, and were going to drop out. They and NASA asked if we could help
them out to try to keep them involved, get their school interest up, and most
importantly keep them entered so they would learn the ropes this year and
be able to have a team again next year. We are a rookie team ourself with
only 7 students, one teacher, and two engineer who volunteer 2 days a week
to help us out. The last thing we ever wanted was to double our workload &
responsibility. We were going to schools like Gunn and Palo Alto for mentorship
to try to get through our rookie year, and now we were going to be mentoring
another school. So that is how the second team, #254 - Broadway / Blackford
high, the Cheesy Poofs team with the robot CARTMAN came to be.
After the first week of our students debating different designs and ideas,
we decided on what became the BAY BOMBER. The partnership team had a very funky
and bizare concept that was very complicated. In the second week we realized
that we were in totally over our heads in this. We, #252, didn’t even know if
we could build one robot, let alone two. The second team, #254, was very
seriously going drop out in the second week. I knew FIRST & NASA had put a lot
of work into growing the NASA regional and didn’t want to drop out. We decided
to just build a similar robot to team #252, with a few minor changes and ideas
along the way.
The kids were on two seperate teams, 4 of our kids building the 252 robot with our
3 of our kids, 3 blackford kids, their teacher & I, along with an engineer who
volunteered last minute building the #254 robot. Clearly the two teams worked
together and helped each other out a lot, but that was a positive. Two schools,
both with kids that would otherwise never get along, working together day and
night to try to achieve something most people around here didn’t think they could do.
On the secret thing, you are right. There was no attempt to keep the teams secret
from each other. We have no funding nd only few tools, with no shop and no machines,
so we had to share the tools and materials we had. The #254 robot NEVER worked until
last Monday at 4:22 AM. And it malfunctioned and did not work for the first 3 matches
in the qualifying round. One student inparticular stayed in the pit the entire day just
working on the electrical wiring. Fixed it, and got the #254 robot working great.
That was the student you might have seen crying in the middle of of the field after
they won. He has never put as much time or effort into anything academic in his life
(he was in gangs just 1 year ago, has never been on a plane, and has worked his butt
off just to go to Florida - to be onthe team he had to get his attendance over 90% and
have all A’s & B’s this year, he is now on the school honor roll and a true FIRST
The other NASA AMES regional teams will tell you, our kids were working non stop just to
try to get our robot working each round. Both Thursday & Friday Night we were the last team
to leave the arena. They stayed to work on the robots until they were kicked out each night.
While I am so proud of both teams, and both groups of students, I think it is important that
people know this. We are a rookie team, we worked horrifying hours to get a working robot
just like I know every other team did. But believe me when I say IT NEVER, I MEAN NEVER,
CROSSED OUR MINDS THAT WE MIGHT WIN THE COMPETITION. IT WAS NEVER EVEN A GOAL. We thought
the #252 team might be able to finish in the top half. our goal for the #254 team was just to
be able to compete and not come in last with all the problems we were having. We never entered
this competition for any other reason to get this kids to work harder than they ever had before
and to be a part of something academic & advanced so they could see their own potential. I can
honestly say each team competed entirely seperate. (in fact, they were in one qualifying match
against each other. If anyone wonders if our teams worked together or not just look at the video-
team #252 was knocked over and almost broke. The kids are very competitive with each other)
Neither team could have advanced in the playoffs if it wasn’t for the wonderful allies that they
had. They were in totally seperate brackets and both had great matches to get to the finals.
The odds on them both making the finals had to be astronomical (I’m no math wiz, but I’m sure some
of you could figure it out.) It was truly a cinderella story. We never even thought about it.
It was just a wonderful surprise. It would have been a great experience even if neither team made
I hope that answers the question about why the 2 teams. I could understand the
confusion if we were some veteran team with great resources and so on had 2 teams.
But we were just a rookie team trying to help another disadvantaged school in an
effort to get as many kids as possible involved in this incredible program and
an attempt to get another school involed. Next year we will have our 252 team,
and Blackford will have their own team. We DON’T WANT to be a part of two teams.
It was just extra work, time, stress, and frustration that we gave ourselves - and
as you all know, trying to build one robot provides enough of that to last a year.
Thanks to all the NASA AMES teams that were so fun to work with and talk to.
Good Luck to everyone in their regionals.