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Middle school robotics team wins big

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Saturday was a big day for the Los Alamos Middle School Hawks FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics team, competing against 11 other teams and winning the FTC Southern Colorado Qualifier. The Qualifier was hosted by the Coronado High School FIRST team in Colorado Springs. The Hawks advanced in competition, earning a slot to compete in the Colorado FTC Championship tournament Feb. 22 in Loveland, Colo.
The Los Alamos Hawks, comprised of Erin Scott, Jaryn Newman, Jessica Cooke, Joseph Thompson, Summer Bronson, Sam Crooks, Michael Peters, and Do Vo, were ranked third after qualifying rounds and chose the Synergists, a team of home-educated students from Colorado Springs, as their alliance partner for the final rounds. The two teams were a good complement, performing different robotic tasks together well, and advanced to final rounds against the Knights Who Say ‘C’ from Loveland, CO, and the Cyberhawks from Westminster, CO. Winners advanced when they won two of three rounds. Final rounds were tough, with the Hawk/Synergist alliance winning in the finals by a close margin. Both the Hawk and Synergist teams are in their first year of competition.
Team alliances during qualifying rounds were determined by tournament staff, while advancing teams choose their alliances in final rounds.
“We had team members scouting the other robots and looking at how we worked with other teams. When we chose an alliance for final rounds, the Synergists were a good choice for us,” said team member Joseph Thompson.
While teams are scored on how well their robots move blocks and drop them into baskets, raise a flag, or hang from a bar, the win is based on the two robots in the alliance scoring more points than their opponents.
Team members must also deliver a presentation to judges and answer a battery of questions from the judges. FTC is designed for students in grades 7-12 to compete head to head, using a sports model. Teams are responsible for designing, building, and programming their robots to compete in an alliance format against other teams.
The Hawk FTC team is sponsored by the United Church, LANL Foundation, Los Alamos Public Schools, Los Alamos National Bank, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), FIRST Robotics, USA Tae Kwon Do Masters Association ­— Master Ron Geoffrion, Best Buy, Sam’s Club, and Trinity Realty.