Recently, March 20-23, the Panther Robotics Team 1108 went to a competition at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Mo.

There were a total of 36 teams there, ranging from 15 to 100 students on each team. Team 1108’s robot, named “Orbity” after a Jetsons character, is capable of playing this year’s space-themed game titled “Destination: Deep Space.”

Orbity, along with two other teams on an alliance, can place cargo balls and hatch panel discs onto their alliance’s rocket ship and cargo ship to score points. Each match lasts 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Teams have a six-week build season starting in January to construct a 125-pound robot, and then they must put their robot in a sealed bag until and in between their competitions.

Their game, created by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and called FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition), is about more than just building and competing robots.

FIRST highly emphasizes community outreach and promoting STEM, especially for girls. One of Panther Robotics Team’s newer initiatives is starting a Jr. Lego League team called the Moonbots Team 15896.

A second program they have that is mainly used at a competition is called No Robot Left Behind, where they help all teams, especially rookie teams, with anything and everything from helping build their robot bumpers to lending them parts for free.

At the end of each competition, there is an awards ceremony. The winning alliance gets that award and a ticket to championships. If there are rookie teams there, they can win awards like Rookie All-Stars, which also send them to championships.

Two awards that reflect heavily on outreach are Gracious Professionalism and Chairmans. There are two engineering awards, the Team Spirit Award, the Judge’s Award and a Creativity Award.

Panther Robotics won the Creativity Award for their motor inside the wheel design, which was a brand new concept inside of FIRST.

Editor and Publisher Brian McCauley can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or brian.mccauley@miconews.com.

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