FIRST World Championship 2016

For the second year in a row, the RoboLancers traveled to St. Louis to compete at the FIRST World Championship. We had won the Chairman’s Award, the most prestigious award in FIRST, during MAR. It was a dream come true for us to attend Worlds once again.

Winning brought back many memories from last year. Some of those weren’t pretty (16+ hour long bus ride), but it didn’t tone down our excitement. Even though I was excited to go, I was more excited in showing and explaining to the younger members what the event would be like. I told them how great this competition was, how great the teams are from around the world, and the cool gadgets that companies would bring along to showcase. It was to show them the wonderful event they were going to be part of.

Worlds was just like last year: a big arena filled with nerds from all over the world. The stadium was filled with FIRST stuff such a shop for FIRST gear, cardboard cutouts of Dean Kamen, Woodie Flowers, and Don Bossi; and Team 4525’s giant cardboard robot. Roaming around the arena was fun because there mascots also that walked about. I took so many pictures of them that one of my teammates, Henry Dang, started complaining. Whoops.

Mascots weren’t the only things I took pictures with. While walking, I saw out of the corner of my eye someone familiar. I actually yanked Henry back once I recognized who the person was. It was Woodie Flowers. For the second year in a row, Henry and I got to meet Woodie Flowers and get his autograph. We even got to take a picture with him. 


For the matches we were in the Curie Division. We started off with a 124-66 victory in our first match. Then we moved up to 5th place with a score of 121-105 in our second match. Throughout the day we had a mixture of wins and losses. Sadly, we weren’t picked during the alliance selection but we gave shout outs to teams 1089 and 25 for representing FIRST Mid-Atlantic teams on the Curie Division as alliance captains. We ended the event in rank 30 (much better than last year’s rank 54) with a record of 5-5-0.

Other than the competition, the team got to do numerous activities such as attending the Innovation Faire, visiting the Gateway Arch, playing at the hotel’s arcade, and spending the night at Six Flags. Just bonding with friends and doing activities that weren’t robotics was a nice feeling.

Our time for the rest of the school year is running short. Our seniors will be graduating in June, and I can already tell there’s going to be tears during the RoboLancer’s senior send off. (There was so much crying last year). Worlds gave us an opportunity to grow closer as a family. 

This was our third time going to Worlds. Whether or not we go next year, we’ll continue to do our best and continue to spread STEM throughout the city of Philadelphia.

FIRST Stronghold

On January 9, 2016, the RoboLancers went to UPenn to attend the FRC kickoff where they watched Dean Kamen and Woodie Flowers roll through a forest on segways, make Monty Python references, and watch the reveal of the FRC 2016 game: FIRST Stronghold.

In Stronghold, teams must take over the opposing team’s castle by breaking through defenses, weaken the castle by launching boulders, and capturing the tower by challenging and/or scaling to it. Robots will have to navigate through different barriers in order to reach the other side. A unique feature about the game is the audience participation where the spectators are able to choose a defense barrier for each match.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to join my team members at the kickoff, but I was able to watch a live stream of the game at home. It was interesting to see the game’s field and how the game is to be played. In my opinion, Stronghold is much better than Recycle Rush. I love the medieval theme, with the field having giant towers for the alliances and the option of having a team standard over the player stations during matches. It really makes you feel like you’re back in the Middle Ages with knights and epic tournaments. The audience participation ability is going to be interesting. Teams outside the match will be trying to appeal to the audience in a Hunger Games sort of way to win their approval.

I think the game is perfect for us because as a medieval themed team, the possibilities for team spirit becomes endless. My team members were quite excited when they first saw the teaser for the game back in October. Right after watching it they were already theorizing about the game, wondering if it would be like Tower Defense or jousting. Then after attending kickoff they started brainstorming ideas for the robot. They discussed what type of robot it would be and possible strategies to score the most amount of points. 

Robots will be storming the castle in Stronghold.

It’s going to be great.

St. Louis and Worlds

The World Robotics Championship is where the best robotics teams from around the world compete against each other on the grandest stage of all.

The journey to St. Louis was tiring but exciting at the same time. To be honest, I had underestimated the bus ride. I estimated it would take from 13 to 18 hours of travelling but I didn’t think much of it. Luckily, I survived, but I came out of the bus with a sore and aching body.

I was relieved once we arrived at St. Louis. We finally had the chance to escape the cramped spaces of the bus and enjoy some breakfast. Before we went to our hotel we stopped by the City Museum. The place was bursting with creativity and excitement.  There were slides in every corner (one of them was 10 stories high), staircases to climb, smalls spaces to crawl through, and objects to hang from. The place was packed with kids of all ages. Adults were having fun too. The RoboLancers weren’t the only robotics team in the building. I saw plenty of other teams having fun before the start of the competition.

The next day was the start of the qualification matches. I’ve been to many robotics competitions in Philadelphia but they were nothing compared to the World Championships. Everything was bigger, better, and more exciting. Teams from all over the world such as Australia, Mexico, and Israel arrived to compete. The stands were filled with people rooting for their teams. The team spirit I witnessed during Worlds was unbelievable. People were chanting, yelling, and dancing around the place.

While we were at the Edward Jones Dome/America’s Center, I got to roam around for a bit with my friend. While we were travelling to the Pit area I saw a bunch of people crowding around someone. Curious, we went over to see who they were talking to.

It was Woodie Flowers.

The first time I came close to a famous person was last year during the summer. In my mind I knew that this was a rare opportunity and that I shouldn’t let this chance pass me by. People were getting his autograph and taking selfies with him. My friend was anxious to go to the pits since we were on a tight schedule but I absolutely refused to leave until I got a signature from Woodie Flowers.

And I did.


I met Woodie Flowers and got his autograph. This was something I never thought would happen in my life. I went on to brag about this to my other team members but I stopped when two of my friends met him the next day and took a selfie with him.

We later then went to the pits where we went crazy hunting for team pins, wristbands, and other cool toys. We were at Worlds and we wanted to experience everything as much as we could.

Later in the day the opening ceremony began. It was a paper airplane extravaganza. That’s the best way I can describe the opening ceremony and the rest of the competition. Never in my life have I seen so many paper airplanes being thrown in the air. They were quite impressive.

The competition continued for the next few days. Finals were around the corner and we competed with all we had. We ranked in 54th place in the end. Unfortunately, we didn’t get picked during Alliance Selection so we couldn’t compete during the Einstein Playoffs. However, we didn’t let that dampen our mood. The ending ceremony arrived with a concert and everyone enjoyed themselves during our last day in St. Louis.

Going to the World Championship was an experience I’ll never forget. I got the chance to meet people from all over the world, go to the Gateway Arch, meet Woodie Flowers, and collect team pins in the pits like a madwoman. I want to thank all of our sponsors for supporting the RoboLancers and helping us with our trip to St. Louis. This would never have happened without your support.

We went to the World Championship twice already.

I’m hoping for round 3.

FTC States 2015

On February 28th members from Crimson and from Gold woke up early to travel to Millersville University to compete in this year’s FTC State Competition.

Last year I had attended the State Competition and so returning to Millersville brought back some nostalgia. There were quite a few things that were similar to last year’s competition. Teams were arriving into the building with their robots and were hurrying to get them inspected by 10:15 AM. After all, teams that did not complete inspection wouldn’t be allowed to compete. Some members from Crimson and Gold were getting ready for presentations. They had been practicing the night before and during the bus ride. They wanted to make sure that they had their facts right and that everything was perfect.

Unlike last year, I wasn’t very involved in the competition. I had been busy with Marketing this year and so I wasn’t able to spend time with Crimson’s robot. Since I wasn’t as involved with the robot there wasn’t much pressure on me. I was able to relax a bit and watch the competition. But that did not mean I was idle the entire day. I had to sport one of our Rock’em Sock’em costumes. Gold member Joan Huang wore the other costume. The last time I wore the costume was when the RoboLancers went to the Philly Science Festival in 2014. I was reminded of how hot being in it was and how tiring it could be to dance for a long period of time. But I was also reminded of how fun it was to interact with other mascots and see people’s reactions to our Rock’em Sock’em robots.

Unfortunately at the end of the competition none of our teams were chosen as alliance partners. We weren’t able to qualify for Super Regionals. However, that did not entirely ruin our mood. Even though it we were upset, we still left the building with our heads held up high. Everyone was proud at what they had accomplished that day.

The bus ride back to Central High School was filled with laughter, music, and singing. A variety of tunes ranging from Disney songs to songs from famous pop singers were belted out. The school song was also included in our sing-along.

I would like to congratulate both Crimson and Gold for making it to States and all the hard work they have done. The RoboLancers will keep on improving every year and one day we will make it to the very end.

FTC Philadelphia Championship

On February 7th, Central High School will be hosting the FTC Philadelphia Championship. The event will be running from 7 AM to 6 PM.  Robotics teams from around the city will be competing for numerous awards and hope to advance to States. Last year Central had hosted the FTC Philadelphia Championship and many people had attended to watch the competition.

This year we are hoping for more people to come and support the teams. We hope that you can come attend this exciting event.

Go Crimson #6676 and Gold #5320!

Book and Canned Goods Drive

The RoboLancers are currently holding a canned goods and book drive. Located in various locations of Central High School there will be bins and boxes. The bins will be used for the canned goods while the boxes are for books. However, textbooks or damaged books cannot be donated.

The boxes and bins are not plain and dull. The Marketing team has been working hard in decorating them with various designs and by putting up posters around the school. As part of Marketing I had fun in drawing and decorating the boxes. I’m hoping that people will be donating.

We are hoping that we will be able to exceed 900 lbs of books, which was last year’s amount by having everyone in the team donate.

The book drive will end on October 18th and the canned goods drive will end on November 1st.


New Members

On September 18 the RoboLancers welcomed the new members of the team at our meeting. Before the meeting, some of our returning team members went around the school and promoted Robotics in hopes we would be able to recruit new members. They went into various classrooms and explained our group, the RoboLancers, to everyone.

The meeting was held in Central’s auditorium. Before the end of school, it was only filled with the returning members of the team, fixing the stage and getting ready for the presentation. But it soon changed as people quickly walked into the room, hoping that they would be able to sign up. There was excitement and eagerness on all of their faces.

The presentation was led by our coach, Mr. Johnson, and other members of the team. They went over what the RoboLancers were all about. They explained what the game for FTC was, the responsibilities of being on the team, and explained what Mechanical, Electrical, Programming, and Marketing were.

After the meeting everyone broke up into smaller groups and showed them where the RoboLancers worked. To break the ice, the groups played various games. When the new members were asked what subgroup they wanted to join, most had an idea of what they wanted to do. They then went into detail about the game, and brainstormed ideas for what the robot would be like.

The promotion for Robotics was a success for there were 112 new members who showed up at the meeting. There are 52 returning members with one or two returning as well. This brings the team to an all-time high of 164. Everyone has high hopes that the game for FTC will be successful.

Marketing Materials

Today I attended Marketing Materials, which is a class that is part of Spring Training. The class was taught by the RoboLancers’ Assistant Coach, Mrs. Conrad, and Thomas Davidenko, a member of the RoboLancers. They were excellent teachers and because of them I learned a lot about Marketing.

In the class I learned all of the important aspects of Marketing such as finding sponsors for our team, how to impress potential sponsors, and various skills that will be needed in making the RoboLancers successful. I payed special attention on how the RoboLancers could impress potential sponsors. Mrs. Conrad gave us tips on how we could accomplish this task. One of the tips was having a good elevator pitch, which she told us was an important skill to have.

During the class Mrs. Conrad and Thomas decided to do a small activity and broke the class into small groups so we could practice on our elevator pitches together. We had to come up with a topic and had to impress Thomas and Mrs. Conrad on our topic in less than 30 seconds. I was in a group with Justin and Wendy. Our first topic, “Cat Sponsors” was suggested by Justin. He had been very excited about it.

“Cat sponsors! Cats will support our team! Black cats, White cats, Tabby cats, all cats will support the RoboLancers!”

I was too stunned at his enthusiasm to respond. However, Wendy wanted to change the topic to “Buy a cat” and we all decided to stick with that.

In the end of the class Mrs. Conrad told all of us an amusing story where when she was little she would practice her elevator pitch in front of the bathroom mirror. She then suggested that we all do that at home. I would do it, but I’m afraid that my parents will be wondering if there is something wrong with me.