Team builds robots, relationships

By Gigi Ekstrom

On Nov. 23, Lakehill Preparatory School’s Robotics team had its initial qualifier for FIRST Tech Challenge at the Allen STEM Center in Allen, Texas. The FIRST Robotics Competition is an international high school robotics competition that gives students real-world engineering experience. The Lakehill Bionicles (Team #14904, pictured) and their robot, Mata Nui, placed ninth out of 28 participants from across North Texas.

Photo courtesy of Lakehill

The Bionicles competed in five matches, three of which their alliance won. In each match, the team was randomly paired with an alliance partner to compete against two other teams, completing tasks such as autonomously moving a foundation for building a tower of blocks. Because they placed well in the first matches, they were chosen for an alliance in the semi-finals.

Unfortunately, due to a technical glitch, the team did not advance. The team also presented to judges about their design choices, programming and Lower School STEM outreach, and was a finalist for the Collins Aerospace Innovate Award.

Driver Blake Perry quickly learned the qualifying format and racked up points. Programmers and driving coaches Sarah Smith and Ryan Douglas assisted Perry with strategy. 

The build team of Sumner Born, James Freeman, Leo Paparoni, Max Link and Ma’Ki Shaw presented to the judges and kept the robot running. Elijah McMillan kept the team organized while Jas Sauz shot promotional video. Preston Bied and Anna Knickel scouted and networked with other teams.

The Bionicles’ next opportunity to advance to regionals is on January 25.