Wednesday, Jun 28, 2017
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Bedford H.S. robotics team tops elite field in Indiana

Forget Rock’em Sock’em. The real-life robot built by high school students in Temperance competed against teams from around the world in challenges that tested strategy, speed, and synergy earlier this month.

Fifteen members of the Bedford Express FIRST Robotics Team 1023 from Bedford High School won the Indiana Robotics Invitational held at Lawrence High School in Indianapolis. It was the third time that the Bedford team had been to the highly competitive offseason competition — and their first time placing first.

Among the 67 top teams in the world, Bedford Express endured a rough start, which involved robots stacking recycling bins and square tote boxes and placing them in designated areas for points. Two mechanical failures in the first two matches put the Bedford in last place, said Debbie May, the team’s coach.

“The team never lost faith in the reliability of our robot. We knew once we worked the kinks out, we could still do well,” Ms. May said.

In later rounds, Bedford Express scored a personal best of four stacks of six totes, each topped with a recycling container, Ms. May said.

“We were one of three teams that were able to make four stacks, and the only one that was doing it consistently,” she said. “The improvement came from the number of matches our drivers have played and the extra practice they put in over the summer. They were able to work quicker.”

In the alliance portion of the competition, where groups of four teams attempted to take down other alliances, Bedford Express took the lead. The Bedford alliance entered the finals in the No. 1 spot and faced the No. 3 alliance, which had the captain of the world champion team, Ms. May said.

After several matches, the Bedford alliance came out on top, breaking a world record for the highest alliance score. It was their second world record of the tournament.

But the victory doesn’t mean that students on Bedford Express will be taking it easy for the rest of the summer.

“They will continue to meet throughout the summer to prepare for the summer camp they host for K-12th graders,” Ms. May said.

Bedford Express also will work with Trapped Toledo to create robotic improvements for the trapped rooms. “We are looking forward to using our robotics skills in a real life atmosphere,” Ms. May said.

Next year, the Bedford team hopes to create new programs and expand old ones to keep children involved with robotics. But the main goal, Ms. May said, is to promote interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

“Our goal is to increase STEM funding, provide a meaningful and exciting STEM experience for all students, and to encourage youth to pursue STEM careers,” she said.

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