Life’s lessons learned by robotics team

Published 9:26 am Wednesday, May 1, 2013

To the Editor:

Remember the old saying, “If it “ain’t” broke, don’t fix it” — or the one about “If anything can go wrong it will”? Well, we certainly were reminded of those very true sayings on this trip to participate in the World Robotics Competition in St. Louis.

After successfully competing in competitions in South Carolina and in Richmond, and with the support of the community, our hard working team found itself in the enviable position of being able to compete against teams from around the country and the world. They were awed by the praise heaped upon them here at home and appreciative of the financial help they received. Realizing that the competition would be intense, and eager to prove themselves on the national stage, the team decided that perhaps they should make some “improvements” to their robot. Since the rules did not allow anyone to touch the robot before it was uncrated in St. Louis, the team could only plan the changes that would be made.

Once the robot was unpacked, the team began making changes that they thought would improve their chances of winning. Sad to say, this did not work out as planned. The changes caused major malfunctions in the thing the robot did best – it’s shooting. As the team attempted to resolve the problem, things did not improve. They worked feverishly between matches to restore the BOT to its original configuration, but nothing seemed to work and anything that could go wrong did so. Finally, when the matches were almost over, the robot once again regained its shooting ability. But it was just too late. The students were crushed! After so much work, and the honor of making it to this wonderful event, things did not go as the students had planned.

However, as their coach, I am so proud of this group. It was impressive that they earned their way to this prestigious event. Once things began to go awry, they never gave up. They worked as a team on problem solving, they sought help from those who were willing to offer suggestions, and they just kept on trying. Next year (yes, we will be back at work again next year) we will profit from mistakes and meet new challenges. My thanks to a wonderful group of young people, the families, and the community who supported this team.

Liz Burgess
Coach, Franklin Robotics Team