BFHS robotics team kicks off the
January 10, 2013
Robotics Team 2130 Alpha + design team
members are already working on a
prototype for the March competition.
Story by Sally Balcaen
Photos by Sarah Schuman
On Saturday, January 5, FIRST Robotics Team 2130
Alpha + met in Mr. Katz’s science room at the
high school for this season’s kickoff. This
year’s challenge was released with speeches from
FIRST’s founder Dean Kamen and FIRST’s national
advisor, Dr. Woodie Flowers. In addition,
members had the chance to visit with a NASA
This year’s game is called Ultimate Ascent . It
is played with Frisbees on a 27-foot by 54 foot
field. All games last two minutes, and teams are
in three team alliances on opposite sides of the
There are four goals at different heights on
each side of the field. There is a lower goal on
the far side of the wall. Frisbees shot through
this goal are worth one point. There are two
middle goals 84 inches up the wall; Frisbees
scored through these goals are worth two points.
Finally, there is a high goal between the two
two-point goals that is 90 inches off the floor.
Frisbees that are shot through that goal bring
in three points.
There are also two pyramids in the middle of the
field. Each pyramid has three rungs. The bottom
rung is 30 inches off floor. The second rung is
60 inches off the floor, and the third rung is
90 inches off the floor. During the last 45
seconds of the game, robots can attempt to climb
the tower. Robots that pull themselves up onto
the first rung will receive 10 points, the
second rung receives 20, and robots that make it
to the third rung collect 30 points.
There is also a goal at the top of each pyramid.
These goals are difficult to reach and any robot
that scores into these goals obtain five points.
All in all, there are 118 white Frisbees on the
field. Each alliance also receives six color
Frisbees, red or blue depending on the alliance
you’re on, to shoot at the goal at the top of
astronaut John Phillips
In the last 30 seconds of the game, human
players can also step in and try to score a goal
on the top of their respective alliances using
the colored Frisbees. To better understand the
game, visit this website:
and watch the FIRST video.
The team also had a surprise guest speaker, NASA
astronaut John Phillips.
He made three trips to space in 2001, 2004, and
2009 to the International Space Station (ISS).
The first and third time he went into space, it
was for two weeks to do construction on the ISS.
The second time, however, he was launched in a
Russian capsule from Kazakhstan. During that
trip, he was a resident crew member of the ISS
for six months, and he had the opportunity to
use the robotic arm to continue building.
gloves for the suits astronauts wear in
space. The bigger glove is a space
walker glove and the smaller one is for
launching and landing.
In Mr. Phillips’s NASA career, he spent a total
of 203 days in space.
Besides explaining the engineering behind the
robotic arm, Mr. Philips also brought two
different space gloves that he passed around to
students to look at and try on. After his
presentation, many students asked him questions
about space and the robotic arm.
Mr. Phillips is now retired and resides in
Along with watching the video several times,
discussing the rules and regulations, and
listening to Mr. Phillips’s presentation, the
team broke into several groups to discuss
strategy and designs that could be used.
While nothing has yet been decided, the team is
getting the creative juices flowing and figuring
out which strategy will be the most effective
for the competition, which takes place in March.
Questions or comments about this
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