Brothers at Windsor High School compete in FIRST Tech Challenge | MyWindsorNow.com

Brothers at Windsor High School compete in FIRST Tech Challenge

Kelly Ragan
kragan@greeleytribune.com

Mitchell and Blake Watson played football together this year at Windsor High School. The brothers, senior and freshman respectively, took on robotics together this year too at FIRST Tech Challenge.

Since the football team did well this year, the Watsons got a late start building their robot. The two came in almost everyday over winter break to finish constructing the device; a lime green wiener dog named Norman was the finishing touch.

"If you want to get something done right, you have to put in the time," Blake said. "It's more rewarding in the end."

FIRST Tech Challenge, held at Aims Community College Jan. 21, called for students to build a metal robot and program it to win a competition. The robot must be built according to the specifications lined out in the kit each team purchases. Robots score points by completing autonomously programed tasks in the first 30 seconds, like maneuvering to specific areas in the arena. For the next 2 minutes, students control the robot. The goal is to earn as many points as possible. Students can shoot balls through a hoop, push balls into specific corners or take control over bases, among other things.

Just before the first round of the competition started, the robot broke. The team had to race to fix it. The flipper snapped off. It was supposed to launch balls through a hoop to score the team points. They had to fix the programming at the last minute, too.

Mitchell, Blake and their other teammates, sophomore Austin Lyons and Nate Shawzer, raced to change the coding and fix the flipper. They used a multipurpose tool to saw to cut the flipper and glued it back on. They fixed it before they went on for the first round.

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"There you go! That's what it's supposed to do," Mitchell yelled when the bot started working again.

Mitchell's been into robotics all four years of high school. His older brother, David, was part of the first robotics class when it started up. Now, Blake is following in their footsteps. The FIRST Tech Challenge was both the brothers' first competition though.

Steve Cline, robotics teacher at Windsor High School, said there's always some unpredictability when competing for the first time. A total of five Windsor teams competed, many for the first time. Cline hopes new participants learn a lot from the match.

Blake's been interested in robotics since middle school. He focused on helping to program the autonomous portion of the code, where the robot acts on its own for the first 30 seconds. For him, the competition was about more than winning. He really just wanted to hang out with his brother.

"My brother's going off to college next year and I wanted to spend more time with him," Blake said. "I know it's one of the last projects we'll get to work on together."

Mitchell plays baseball in the spring and Blake plays lacrosse. When Blake gets home from practice, everyone's usually asleep, he said. The two got to play cards, video games and basketball over the summer. Blake knows summers will be changing.

The broken flipper cost them the competition.

"They were our best robot if not for that one part," Cline said.

They competed again this weekend at Clear Creek High School in Evergreen for a chance to qualify for the state competition. To find out the results of the Evergreen competition, go to http://www.mywindsornow.com.

For more information

To learn more about FIRST Tech Challenge’s Velocity Vortex competition go to http://bit.ly/2c6z8M4

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