A large and enthusiastic crowd gathered in the main gym of Belleville High School on Friday, March 8, and Saturday, March 9, to cheer on 40 teams from the State of Michigan competing in the FIRST Robotics Belleville District event.
This was the second year for Belleville to host an event, and it was one of five district events going on simultaneously around the state. Teams came from as far away as Midland and Kentwood and as close as Carleton and Canton to participate.
The theme of this year’s competition is “Deep Space,” inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969. The object of this year’s game is to leave the starting habitat platform, place hatches on both a rocket ship and a cargo ship, load cargo into the both rocket and cargo ships, and return to the habitat before the two-and-a-half-minute game clock expired.
The game requires teams to consider building a robot which might weigh up to 150 pounds that could both descend from and climb onto the elevated habitat platforms. Additionally, the robots might handle plastic disks which form the ship hatches as well as 13” playground balls which become the ships’ cargo when loaded in place.
Matches are played between two three-team alliances. During the qualification round, these alliances change every match, and teams could play on the same alliance in one match and on opposite alliances in the next.
Eighty qualification matches are played, and each team participates in 12 matches. After all qualification matches are complete, the top-ranking teams become the captains of eight playoff alliances and select two other teams to play with them in a best-of-three format playoff round.
The Belle Voxel-Bots (Team 6615 from Belleville) finished qualification play in 35th place and were not selected to participate in the playoffs. When all of the playoff matches were completed, the alliance of Code Red Robotics (Team 5567 from Milan High School), Dreadbots (Team 3656 from Dexter High School), and MC Hammers (Team 7656 from Michigan Center High School) prevailed to secure the district championship.
The Belle Voxel Bots will participate in their second district competition at Lincoln High School on March 22-23. An opening ceremony precedes matches on both days, usually starting at 10:30 a.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday. Matches typically start around 11 a.m. and conclude around 7 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday, matches begin at 9:30 a.m. and finish around 12:30 p.m. with playoff selection and playoff rounds concluding around 5 p.m. Admission to all FIRST district events is free, and all events are open to the public.
For more information on FIRST, go to www.firstinspires.org and select FIRST Robotics Competition under the “Programs” pull-down menu. For all of the information on FIRST events in Michigan, visit www.firstinmichigan.org .