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The Reflection

Twisted Devils host and compete in robotics competition, qualify for states

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Points are scored during matches by stacking crates on a large lever located in the middle of the field. Photo by Annie Thorn

The Gull Lake Twisted Devils powered up for their first tournament of the season on Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17. The team competed with its robot in several qualification matches on Friday and Saturday, remaining in the top five for the majority of the competition before losing its last three matches and finishing in eighth.

After the conclusion of the qualification matches, top finishers selected teams to be part of their alliances in the playoffs. Each alliance consists of three teams.

The Twisted Devils’ accepted an alliance offer from team 1025, the IMPI Warriors, who finished in third after the qualifying rounds.

The Twisted Devils’ robot, marked with their number, 4381, picks up a yellow crate during a playoff match. Photo by Annie Thorn.

“They knew we had a really good robot, and we had a shot at winning the competition together,” Bennett said.

The Twisted Devils’ then worked with the IMPI Warriors to select a third team for the alliance–which ended up being the Tesla Tigers from Allegan.

While they didn’t make it beyond the quarter final rounds of the playoffs, the Twisted Devils’ alliance finished in fifth place.

The Twisted Devils also won the Chairman’s Award, which automatically qualified them for the state tournament to be held on April 11.

Sometimes it takes several minutes to set up between robotics matches. During this time, students are given the chance to get up and participate in line dances. Photo by Annie Thorn.

The Chairman’s Award, which was won by the Twisted Devils’ on Saturday, is the most prestigious award in robotics, according to Gull Lake Senior and team captain Kyle Bennett.

“It demonstrates that not only does your team compete;  you help other teams compete, but you help other teams along the way and volunteer in the community,” Bennett said.

Bennett said the award is given to a team based on its ability to learn, practice good sportsmanship, problem solving and community involvement.

Twisted Devils team member David Russel carries their robot from the field after a playoff match. Photo by Annie Thorn

“Teams can qualify for this award by answering a series of questions, writing an essay, creating a short video and giving a presentation to a group of judges at competition,” Bennett said.

According to Bennett, the Twisted Devils have been trying to win the Chairman’s Award for four years, and has worked on the different components of the application since September.

Along with the Chairman’s Award, the team also won a safety award.

Gull Lake junior and Twisted Devils’ safety team member, Elaina Lindsey, said her job is to ensure students are protected and tidy when they are working on their robot–both at practice and at tournaments. Lindsey and her three other safety team members also help other teams practice safe habits–wearing safety glasses, not running around the robots and following all the rules when they’re working.

According to Lindsey, the safety team hands out pamphlets and first-aid kits to other, more experienced teams as well as larger kits for rookie teams during competitions. They’ve also given presentations at schools to emphasize that safety is important in all areas–not just robotics.

“It’s really important that we carry that out through robotics because there’s a lot of things that could go wrong,” Lindsey said.

Each robotics team has a pit, which serves as a kind of home base where modifications and repairs are made to the robot. Photo by Annie Thorn

Lindsey said that FIRST has even approached the Twisted Devils’ to work on a safety badge for next year. Such badges (there’s already a leadership badge, programming badges, and a marketing badge that students can apply for) can be won by anyone on the team–for example, a member of the build team could win the new safety badge that will be instituted next year, even if they aren’t a member of the safety team.


Annie Thorn
About

This is my first year on staff at the Reflection. I enjoy running track and cross country. I also spend a lot of time volunteering at Gracespring and the Richland Community Library. After I graduate this year, I hope to go to college and pursue a career in public history.

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