Friday, January 13, 2017


We held the third annual SUMO Robot challenge Thursday night, with 18 teams competing.  You can read a nice write up about it in this Times Record Article . For the first time this year, the event took place in the BMS cafeteria which turned out to be an excellent venue. Spectator's seats were arranged in a circle around the Sumo ring, and a pit area was set up off to the side. 

After receiving feedback from spectators last year that they had difficulty seeing the action, we devised a way to project the bouts onto a big screen at the front of the room. I put my iPhone on a tripod and sent the signal to a projector. It was a big improvement that we'll continue to use.

A former 5th grade student of mine, Joshua Doughty, volunteers to help with our robotics students. He is now a junior at Morse High School, and did a fantastic job refereeing the matches.
We used a web application called "challonge" to build our single elimination bracket. Mr. Seymour took the computer data and transferred it to a big white board for everyone to see.

The competitive spirit was pretty intense, but we tried to make sure that everyone shook hands before and after the match. Regardless of what place a robot took, each team worked tirelessly to build and program it.

The winners, Robbie Fitzmaurice and Soren Langord pose in front of the bracket.
The complete results are listed below. Look for more robotics challenges coming up this spring!

Supreme Champion:

ATLAS (BMS, Robbie Fitzmaurice, Soren Langord)
Worthy Adversary:

BOB (BMS, Saydee McCall, Dyllan Arsenault)

3rd place tie:

Amazed D (WCS Jackson Fuller, Gavin Baillargeon)
Dr. Debra (BMS, Riley Dunn, Dalton Johnstone, Eli Torrey)
5th place tie:

Turtle 2 (BMS, Eleanor Carrolton, Nick Gaynor, Matt Doughty)

Fluffy Kitten Destroyer of Worlds (BMS, Cody Stewart, Bjorn Langord)

KadenMarc (WCS Marc Bradford, Kaden Lopez)

Ram (Patten Free Library)
9th place tie:

Bricky (BMS, Aidan Shields, Jonah Smith, Dylan Philbrick)

Failbot (BMS, Coco Cashman, Sophie Booth, Marissa Miles)

RoboSumo (WCS Natalie Emmerson, Jean Paul)

Gremlin (Patten Free Library)

Star Killer (Patten Free Library)

Honeybadger (WCS Oscar Hennin, Alex Maccio, Jacob Behnke)

Meh (BMS, Emily Tetzlaff, Hadley Wong, Miranda Burpee)

Destroyer (Lucas Martin, Alex, O'Camb)

17th place tie:

The Niffler (WCS, Iris Hennin)

Pencou (WCS Riley Gale, Micah Longbottom)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

More Preliminaries

Today we held the Woolwich Central School preliminary SUMO competition. Six robots competed, each with its own bit of flair (both in programming and construction). I am proud of the hard work, problem solving and determination of each of the students who participated. The winner of today's competition took a unique approach, foregoing a long distance ultrasonic sensor for a stout lifting arm activated by a touch sensor. Basically, "Honeybadger" (a perfect name!) only went into beast mode when it was right on top of its opponent, with devastating effects. 

Tomorrow night's district-wide competition promises to be a lot of fun!

Until then, enjoy this time lapse video of today's action.

Friday, January 6, 2017

SUMO Preliminary Competitions

This year we decided to hold school-wide SUMO competitions prior to the district-wide competition. Kids worked intensely for a long period of time on these robots, so we wanted to maximize the amount of time they could use them. Yesterday, BMS students had their chance to try out their creations in the ring. This prelim also gave the teams one last chance to make small enhancements to the robots and their programs. This short video gives you a taste of what the competition is like.

Some of my favorite moments from yesterday's competition came from observing and listening to the teams. There was a lot of excited energy, but also tremendous focus and purpose.  Problem solving and adjusting small aspects of the robots can make significant improvements in performance. Teams adjusted positioning of sensors, physical connections on the chassis, threshold levels in parts of the programs, and even the gearing ratios between the motors and the axles. One all-girl team of novices that finished near the top of the heap told me, "We were sure we were going to lose. We can't believe we almost won!"

Think about that for a moment.

Three 7th grade girls with very little experience in building or programming persevered together, surmounting continuous frustrations to finish in the top three. What is their takeaway from an experience like this? I imagine they have a deeper understanding of the power of taking risks, collaborating, working hard, being determined, learning from failures, and not losing hope. Incidentally, the top three teams were all girls!

We will hold the Woolwich preliminary competition next Wednesday afternoon, and then the district-wide event Thursday night, 1/12 from 6:30 to 8:30. We hope to see you there. It's going to be great!