Students from six Kansas City area high schools are working overtime preparing to showcase their robotics skills at an upcoming worldwide competition.
Teams from Smithville High School; Olathe Northwest High School; Shawnee Mission West High School; Lee’s Summit High School; a combined team from Blue Springs High School and Blue Springs South High School; and a combined team from William Chrisman High School, Truman High School and Van Horn High School in the Independence School District will soon head to St. Louis for the FIRST World Robotics Championship.
Six-hundred teams from across the world will compete April 23-26 at the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) competition. All six local teams became eligible by winning awards at the Greater Kansas City Regional FIRST Robotics Competition in March. Fifty-four teams competed in the regional event.
Lee’s Summit senior Nola Tran is a member of the school's Team Driven 1730 robotics team.
Now in her third year on the team, Tran said making it to the World Championship is a good way to end her high school career.
“I’m really glad that we made it this year,” she said.
Team Driven will head into St. Louis after winning the Engineering Inspiration award at the Greater Kansas City regional.
“We’re going to go out there and compete to our best,” Tran said.
Team Ravonics Revolution 1710 from Olathe Northwest High School gained entry to the FIRST World Robotics Championship by being named Regional Champions along with the combined team of Blue Springs High School and Blue Springs South High School and the combined team from Van Horn High School, William Chrisman High School and Truman High School in the Independence School District.
Senior Sam Viron is the chief executive officer of the team from Olathe Northwest High School. As one of the team’s leaders, she is incredibly proud of its continued success.
“This is our school’s fifth year in a row going to the world championship,” Viron said. “We have been a team for 10 years and have been to the championships for half of that time.”
But for Viron and Team Ravonics 1710, there is little time to celebrate. The team is currently meeting two times a week for about three hours at a time preparing for their next competition.
“This year we built two robots that are identical, so we can bag one up and submit it for competition and then practice with the other one,” Viron said. “Right now, our drivers are practicing and we are getting ready for some presentations.”
In the Independence School District, the First Bots of Independence 1723, or FBI for short, is also putting in long hours. William Chrisman High School junior Aimee Dietiker said her team is working about 15 hours a week in preparation for the competition.
“The most important thing we are doing is preparing and practicing with the driving skills,” Dietiker said. “We are also working on our presentation about our team and what we have done to help to spread the word about the FIRST organization.”
Like all of the teams at the world championship, FBI 1723 will compete in a series of games that revolve around a recycling theme and involve using their robot to stack recycling containers in timed competitions. Dietiker said she feels confident that her team can compete well with the hundreds of others in St. Louis.
“We are more excited than nervous,” Dietiker said. “We worked really hard on our robot and we don’t think there is anything else we could have possibly done to make it better.”
At Smithville High School, team Smithville Warriors Advancing Technology or SWAT 1806 is also hard at work getting ready to take on the best of the best in robotics teams. Smithville High School, along with Shawnee Mission West High School and Lee’s Summit High School, earned its way to the world championship by being named a finalist at the Greater Kansas City Regional FIRST Robotics Competition.
Like their fellow competitors at Olathe Northwest High School, the team from Smithville High School also designed a second robot to help them adequately prepare. Senior Gabe Greenfield, a team member, said that while it takes a lot of extra work to build two robots, they are glad they did it.
“Between the time we bagged up our robot, we were able to make changes on our drive train and add a couple more features,” Greenfield said. “It helps us because we can continue to make changes and continue to test code.”
Some team members are currently putting in about three hours a day in preparation for the St. Louis competition. Extra time that Greenfield feels is well worth it.
“It helps us so that we can practice and be fresh,” said Greenfield.