HB FIRST Robotics team brings home silver

Maggie O'Hara and Ava Occhialini

The HBHS Robotics team brought home a silver medal from the FIRST World Championships early this month, where they competed among more than 400 other teams in St. Louis, Missouri. After weeks of designing, prototyping, and programming, the HBHS Robotics team brought their newest Robot, Zeppelin, to compete in the nation-wide competition.


The group arrived by plane in St. Louis on Tuesday. The group took advantage of some free time Wednesday morning to explore the City Museum, and then arrived at the Dome at America’s Center around noon to set up for competition rounds. Led by Ms. Hay, a technical education teacher here at the school, the students arrived at their stadium venue, which is capable of seating 70,000 people.


Teams were divided up randomly among the 6 fields inside the dome. For the event, each field was identified by the name of a particularly ground-breaking scientist. The HBHS team, for example, played on the field called “Carson.” Competing teams played 10 matches over the course of two days. The top 8 teams out of the 68 allotted per field selected “alliances” from among the remaining 60, and elimination rounds were poised to begin.  


Though the HBHS Robotics team did not qualify for one of the top 8 slots, they were chosen by the “5th alliance” team. The 5th alliance did extremely well; nearly winning the field. They proceeded to the final round before losing their winning streak in the semifinals.


The group kept a tight schedule, leaving the hotel each day at about 6:00 a.m. and starting the route back to their hotel each night at about 8 p.m.. In what Ms. Hay describes as “a roller coaster of emotions,” adrenaline as well as an array of feelings rushed around, leaving students satisfied but drained come Sunday. Chaperones divided up the students for team bonding activities for the last day.


Robotics is now concentrating on off-season events and competitions. Any student looking for more information on becoming a part of the FIRST Robotics team next year should contact Ms. Hay. The team is searching for student talent on all levels, including a “Business and Strategy” subgroup who scouts rival teams, drafts approaches for competitions, and creates marketing products such as banners, awards essays, and shirts.


Robotics team members were ecstatic that they had the opportunity to attend Worlds in the first place. With steep ticket prices, hotel fees, and cost of attendance, local fundraisers and donations got the team to St. Louis. Hay stated that she was “so astonished and thankful for the community for stepping up and saying ‘yeah, we want to support you.’”


Team president, Abby Lewis ‘17, also expressed her gratitude for having the opportunity to compete. “Our team exceeded my expectations greatly, and I am so incredibly proud of them. And from the minute we learned the game back in early January, to the minute we stepped foot in the arena, the teams easily spent over 400 hours preparing to compete. We could not have done it without our mentors, our sponsors, and of course, our amazing robot.”