The Camdenton High School 4-H FIRST® LASER robotics team are on their way to the FIRST® Ultimate Ascent World Championship held in St. Louis April 24-27. Camdenton earned a bid to Worlds by winning the St. Louis Regional over the weekend.
"This is the third time in four years LASER 3284 has been on the winning alliance and won this regional competition. The LASER 3284 students, mentors and coaches did an outstanding job at the event and represented our district with distinction winning awards in addition to being captions of the champion winning alliance along with Metool Brigade 1208 from O'Fallon, Illinois and Shrapnel Sergeants 2408 of Hazelwood West high school near St. Louis," Director of Aftershool Services Sherry Comer said.
Teams began the regional competition on Thursday morning when they were able to work on their robots for the first time since February 19. "Members of LASER 3284 team worked diligently to enhance program code, autonomous and making mechanical adjustments to their robot named Patriot," Comer said. "Other members began scouting and working to promote safety among other teams and enticing participants to participate in their new innovative Build-A-Bot program enjoyed by all age groups."
The teams main challenge consisted of using their robot to shoot frisbees long distances and knock down opposing team frisbee shots. It was nothing short of a story book weekend for LASER 3284. The team persevered through challenges and continued to make adjustments as they lost three of their first five qualification matches Friday morning. The team went on to win six out of the last seven matches and finished with an eighth place ranking out of 43 teams after making key alterations and polished driving.
The championship alliance selection process found LASER 3284 as the number six alliance captains in charge of selecting their teammates from the remaining pool of teams. LASER 3284 was able to assemble an alliance that defeated the number three alliance in the quarterfinals two games to one, the number two alliance in the semi-finals two games to zero and the number one seeded team in the championship match two games to zero with scores of 83 to 53 and 109 to 49.
"It is rare that a lower seeded team advances, let alone win a Championship in FIRST FRC Regional events," Comer said. "It is important to remember that the Patriot robot was designed, programmed and built in six short weeks from Jan. 5 until Feb. 19 outside of each school day in Camdenton's Aftershool program."
According to Comer, thousands of hours were logged by the 42 member team and 21 adult LASER mentors this season alone. LASER 3284 was led by the six veteran team members who have been with the team since its rookie season in 2010. After its win in St. Louis, the team is moving on to compete against teams from 63 countries. Before the World Championship, LASER 3284 will vie for more accolades at the Razorback Regional in Fayetteville, Arkansas on April 4-6.
All Camdenton LASER teams will be hosting "Drive one 4 UR School" sponsored by Sakelaris Ford of Camdenton on May 4. The team invites the public to come test drive a Ford and one of the team's robots. Participants will earn $20 per test drive to be given to the LASER teams.