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Hello, Robolions team members, mentors, friends, and community members! Welcome to "The Fourth Law of Robotics," home to University City High School's FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Team. We hope to use this blog to inform you about what we're up to.
We compete in the FRC (First Robotics Competition), an annual competition where we have six weeks to build a robot from scratch. This year's game is Recycle Rush. We'll post updates here to let you all know what we're up to with building (and competing with) our robot!
We also are now competing in FTC (First Tech Challenge), the next level down from FRC. The game was called Ring It Up!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Going forward...

At the School Board meeting last night, we got recognized with certificates for our achievement. Unfortunately they could not pronounce Daniel's last name right. Oh well. It was great to see all the school board members so excited about the compeition and our victory, and everyone's looking forward to the competition in April!

Last Wednesday we had a meeting, just to dicuss what we're going to be doing from here on out. We came up with some plans to work on the minibot, and potentially a new arm system. We have 5 weeks now to do anything that we can without the actual robot, which is being kept in storage until the April competition.

We'll try to keep you updated as we move forward in the next couple of weeks!


Monday, March 21, 2011

News Updates- we're on the news!

Now that the excitement of the weekend has settled down a bit, all the news reporters that were at the competition are now posting their stories. Here are the links to various articles that include our team:

In addition to that, we had a news reporter for Channel 11 come and interview the team today. It will be airing on Channel 11 at 4:00 PM and 4:30 PM today, as well as at other various times through out the week. Be sure to watch us!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


While we're getting so many hits, I figured I might as well put this out there.

Just like Girl Scouts sell cookies, FIRST is now selling lightbulbs. But these aren't your normal, everyday 60watt lightbulbs- no, these are amazing, bright, efficient LED bulbs! Here are some of the perks of these bulbs:

  • They shine as bright as a normal 60 watt bulb- but only use 7 watts of energy!
  • They last for about 9 years- with an average life of 10,000 hours of use
  • There is no mercury in these bulbs- making them safe to use and dispose of!
  • LED bulbs are environmentally and economically friendly- using them could save you $150 a year in electricity costs, and they don't do any harm to the environment, so you can help the planet and save money while doing it!
  • The estimated energy cost of these bulbs per year is only $0.84. That's right- only 84 cents!
  • Unlike normal glass bulbs, these are made of a plastic outside, so they won't break!
  • The proceeds of these sales go to helping our FIRST team, which can be quite expensive. They help cover costs such as registration fees, parts and equipment purchases, and other fees that accumulate through out the year. By supporting FIRST through these sales, you are enabling many students to learn the invaluable skills that will help not only themselves succeed, but help the entire world make a better future.
  • At only $20 per bulb, they are much cheaper than the LED bulbs you can buy in stores- which can cost up to $40, and don't support a good cause!
You can find out more information and reviews from these websites:

If you would like to purchase bulbs for you or your business, contact us at

Thank you!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 3 of Competition- the finals!!

So, as you all know, today was the big day for the STL Regional! Qualifying matches finished up in the morning (we had two matches, both pretty successful), then Alliance Selection before lunch, with the elimination matches taking place after lunch. I'll try to explain as much as I can about the day; but by this point it's all sort of run together in my mind. Here goes!

This morning, we had two matches, at 10:15 and 10:51. We scouted out our alliance members for those, and discovered that they were all strong offensive teams with working minibots, so we decided not to use our minibot afterall. It was still pretty good though- the minibot, that is. So we played mostly defense for these matches.

By the end of qualification, we were ranked at 16th. So we weren't in the running to be Alliance Captains, and choose other teams to join our alliance. But the alliance selection was still very intense. I'll do my best to explain how it works.

The top 8 teams are the alliance 'captains', meaning they get to choose two other teams to join their alliance for the elimination rounds. It went down the line, and then back up, so team #1 got to choose first and last, and #8 got to choose twice in a row. In today's alliance selection, team #1 asked team #2 to join their alliance, and team #2 accepted. So team #3 moved into #2's spot, #4 into #3's, and so on, until they had to fill in the #8 spot with the next highest ranked team, #9.

It was intense. We weren't chosen in the first round, so when they went back through the line to choose the third team for each alliance, we were crossing our fingers. They got all the way down the line until they got back to the #1 team- and we had pretty much given up hope. I mean, these are the top two teams, they're really good! Why would they choose us?

But they did! We were paired with the #1 team! And it was a darn good alliance too- the other two teams, 1985 and 3284, had really strong offense and were great at putting up tubes. They both also had really effective minibots, and autonomous modes. So we brought the defense, making sure the opposing alliance couldn't get to their tubes, or hanging pegs, or minibot towers. It was a great system- 1985 and 3284 were able to score score score without having to worry about the other alliance, which we took care of. All in all, it was great.

Elimination matches are played best two out of three. We played all the way through the quarterfinals, semifinals and finally (no pun intended) we made it to the final round! They were two very tough matches- the opposing alliance was strong, and put up an amazing fight. Ultimately, however, our alliance (the red alliance! yay!) won. Everyone was on the edge of their seats waiting for the final scores. When they announced that the red alliance had scored 95 points against the blue alliance's 48, the crowd erupted into cheers. There were many highfives and hugs, and of course, handshakes and 'good match!'-es to the other team. I'll post videos of the match later.

So, by winnning this regional, we are moving on to the International Championship, which will take place here in Saint Louis in April. It's extremely exciting- teams from all around the globe will be coming here to compete. We will be up against the greatest teams in the world. It's a huge event. There will be more info when it gets closer.

The entire weekend was a great experience. It's such a wonderful event- so high-energy, and friendly. It's like a sports competition- only how many sports competitions do you know where the whole crowd stands up and does the Cupid Shuffle while they are waiting for the referees to make a decision? How many sports competitions do you know where teams go out of their way to help another team- to help them be safe, to help them strategize and come up with a better plan, to go above and beyond and donate their own time to teach your team a new skill? How many sports competitions do you know where every single player- EVERY player- can go pro in their sport? I could go on and on- it's really amazing what FIRST does. It teaches not only good, friendly competition; but lifelong skills of teamwork, problem-solving, love of technology, and countless practical skills that will be used in the engineering, buisness and many other career fields in the future. These are real things- the kids who do FIRST are going to be the ones who grow up to cure cancer, find efficent, clean energy sources, and solve world hunger. We need more kids to do this, to create a better future. But I believe we can :)

I'll post more pictures and videos tomorrow. Leave a comment or send an email ( with any questions or comments!

And a special shoutout to our AMAZING mentors and coach- without you guys, we would be nothing. You help us through so many problems, and teach us so many new skills. You view things in a more mature, organized way, and help us get back on track when we overthink stuff. So to Brandon, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Dodson and Mr. Sarber, THANK YOU! You mean so much to us!


There will be more of a post later this evening with details, but here's just a real quick update:

WE WON THE FINALS!!! Meaning, we won the STL Regional!! Along with the teams from Hazelwood Central and Camdenton, MO. More info/pictures/details later!

This means we go on to the International competition!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day two of the STL Regional Competition

Our first day of actual competition is through! It was quite an exciting day for the team. We worked through a lot of problems and struggled through matches, and rejoiced in victory. Some major highlights of the day were:

  • Dean Kamen (the incredible founder of FIRST) made an appearance!! We all got our shirts signed and even got our robot bumpers signed. We got to talk to him a little bit and he made a speech at the closing ceremony.
(Dean is the dude in the denim shirt. He's a major celebrity in the engineering world!)

  • We got our minibot up and working! There were some discrepancies at first as to whether it was allowed to stay on the entire time it was on the field, but we worked that out with the refs.
  • We were partnered with some great alliances, and up against worthy opponents as well! It all worked out. We met a lot of great new people again, as we expect we will meet tomorrow!
Our ranking fluctuated a lot- at one point, we were in 3rd place, but by the end of the day we settled into 15th. That puts us in the running for the elimination rounds tomorrow afternoon, but we still have a few qualifiers tomorrow morning, so we can potentially move up in the rankings.

There were no major problems with Quorra today. There are some issues with the autonomous programming, but Daniel has been hard at work fixing that, and we all believe in him! We've got to give kudos to Sammiyah and the other people who worked on the minibot- without your tireless work, we would not have had a funcitioning minibot.

Here's a picture of the playing field:

It was an exciting day, and we have yet another one to go. Tomorrow is our last day of the STL Regional, and in the morning, we have more qualifiers. In the afternoon, the elimination rounds begin, when teams choose alliances and then compete, eliminating losing alliances until only one is left, and that team will go on to the International Competition, which will be held in Saint Louis in April. More info on that later.

See you at the competition!! :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 1 of St. Louis Regional- set up and practice

Whew, today was a long day! For three of our members, it started at the arena at 7 am. For the rest of us, 8 am was the beginning of what was going to be a very long day of testing, breaking, fixing, and practicing with the robot, as well as scouting out other teams and making friends. We met some really great people- in particular, the team from Bishop DuBorg, whose team number I am forgetting right now. Anyways, they really helped us fix the problems that we had with our minibot, going above and beyond the call of gracious professionalism. So, kudos to them! :)

Anyways, the whole day was filled with testing our robot on the practice field, and recognizing the issues we were having with the bot. One major issue was that the robot wasn't tracking the reflective tape line like it was supposed to, because the lighting in the arena was different than what we had calibrated it to originally. So we had to reprogram that. And of course, we had to get our robot inspected, and it took a while to pass inspection. But we did eventually, so that's all good. We also had to completely restructure and reprogram our mini bot. Let me try to put a picture in your mind of how much progress we made- this morning, we couldn't even get the bot to climb the pole. By 6:30 this evening, it was able to climb- and fast, too, within 8 seconds! Which is pretty awesome.
Here's a picture of our team this morning:

From right- Daniel, our programmer; Mike, our mascot/driver/builder/etc; Grace, our blogwriter/marketing/scouter/oddjob doer; and Sammiyah, our minibot gal/builder/electric stuff-er.

Yep, that's us! Not the whole team, of course. But a few of us. In the photo, we are outside the loading dock of the arena, waiting to bring stuff in to the pits to set up.

Tomorrow begins actual competition. From 9am into the afternoon we will be in scheduled matches with pre-assigned alliances. It's intense but so worth it :) So if you want to see something really awesome, come on out to Chaifetz arena! Here are some basic house rules, however:

-You must be wearing close-toed shoes.
-Long hair must be tied back.
-You must wear saftey goggles while in the pit- these are not necessary in the stands, though. We can provide you with saftey goggles.
-No smoking.

Our pit station is located right at the corner of the pit, so if you go down the steps by section 115 we are right there. We will be wearing grey shirts. Hope to see you!

Good luck to all the other teams! :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Competition Information

Hey, so the competition begins this weekend!

Technically it starts Friday, but we drive over to set up shop tomorrow. Here's the details:

Where: Chaifetz Arena
When: Qualifiers (the rounds we are guaranteed to be in) begin Friday, at 9am, and continue through the day. Then, on Saturday, there are more qualifiers beginning at 9am and ending at 11am. Saturday afternoon is the elimination rounds, which we may or may not be continuing to.
Directions: Chaifetz Arena is located on the SLU campus, at 1 S Compton Avenue, St. Louis, MO, 63103. For directions, visit MapQuest and get directions from your house.
Why: Uh, because this competition is completely intense. Imagine all that we've been showing you with pictures and videos of our robot, times 100. 28 teams. 2 days. It's even more exciting than a basketball tournement. Why watch March Madness when you could come watch the Robotics Competition? Plus, it's COMPLETELY FREE!!

If you have any more questions, shoot us an email at or comment on this status. For even more info, visit:

See you at the competition!! :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Attempting to post a video...

So this is Grace updating, and I'm trying to post a video. Dan's not here right now to show me how to embed it, so I'm doing my best to remember what he said last time :) So let's try this, I guess! If it turns out okay, it should be a video of our minibot, EVA, climbing the pole. The prototype you see here is most likely the one we will be using for competition. That's all!

Signing out,

Competition week is closing in on us...

So, it's the Saturday before competition week. We will be meeting Wednesday night to finalize schedules and load up the cars with all of our stuff, and then driving in on Thursday morning to set up our pit station.

Today we made a working EVA model, and it looks like at this point, it will be the one we will most likely (if we) use in competition. It basically uses alot of magnets and an inside-out wheel to climb the pole. The only obstacle we have to get around now is the deployment of the EVA.

We will try to keep you posted as we continue to work hard to make this year's competition awesome!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Robot Has A Name!

At today's minibot building session, the team has selected a name for our main robot.
It is:

It is pronounced like Cora (core-uhh), but not spelled like it.

The minibot will continue to be known as Little EVA.