I see the Pioneer High School team has made it to the finals; that's good. The members call themselves the Pi Hi Samurai and are decked out in purple karate suits, complete with headbands. Even their robot has purple on its base. They bow to the crazed announcer.
The buzzer sounds and pandemonium ensues. The three robots from each team work quickly but clumsily to get the most rings on the rack. It's tricky because the scaffolding arms are suspended by chains, offering a wiggly target. Some of the robots try to knock each other around, which is pretty funny but also impressive.
After this round, the kids and I take a walk behind the arena to find one team playing with their robot. A row of kids each have a joystick or some way of controlling and moving part of the robot, and they're testing how far it can extend its jaws before toppling over. "We're finished," an adult tells me, "but we want to work out everything before the next competition."
This year's FIRST competition is again at the EMU Convocation Center, on Friday and Saturday, March 28 and 29.
Photo Courtesy Keith McClary.