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HHS BotCats Learn Their Way Through Contest

HOPE – The Hope High School BotCats student robotics team learned to think on the fly in the FIRST Robotics Competition in Little Rock last week.

“There were 58 teams attending FIRST Robotics Competition this year,” team faculty sponsor and HHS teacher Kathy Knight said. “The competition consisted of 87 qualifier rounds, and each team participated in nine rounds.”

At the conclusion of the qualifying competition, the top eight teams chose partners for three-team alliances for the final contests, Knight said. HHS placed 45th overall after a technically difficult start.

“Our team does not have anyone who knows about coding, so we were needing help with our coding,” Knight said.

The national qualifier in Little Rock required teams to build a basic robotic chassis with modifications based upon competitive intent.

“The robot that could do it all should be able, in addition to driving, shoot seven-inch foam balls, and go from 42 inches to 63 inches with some type of winching device so that you can actually have your robot lift itself into the air for five seconds,” Knight said.

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With limited experience, Hope opted for the shooting maneuver only.

Teams from Kirby and Mayflower collaborated with the Hope team on coding, and a team from Bentonville lent the BotCats the technical expertise of one of its mentors.

“One of our team members, freshman Cole Ayers, stepped up and began learning about coding,” Knight said. “With the help of other teams, we were able to get some good code into our machine and headed to inspection around noon Thursday.”

The BotCat machine passed inspection on the first attempt, and the remainder of the first day was spent on modifications for competition. Friday morning, the team’s “pit crew” of Rebekah Fulton, Jacob Gunn and Yovana Martinez got the machine ready for competition.

“This year we concentrated on shooting; this was our first year to have a successful shooting game, so we did not attempt the climbing component,” Knight said.

She said the team will work on developing that component in 2021.

“This year I learned so much about wiring robots that my personal goal is to learn coding before August, 2020,” Knight said.

BotCat team members included Yovana Martinez, Jacob Gunn, Cole Ayers, Brayden Hamilton, Timothy Rowe, Andrew Sanders, Rebekah Fulton, Samantha Bailey, Colton Turner, and Zolton Dellosso. Knight is the faculty sponsor and Val Knight and Chad Ayers are team mentors.

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