These days, I have been spending most of my evenings mentoring high school students for a Robotics Challenge. It was fun working with a bunch of creative minds. It also helped me get through the misery of missing my 'mom and dad' who returned to India after their wonderful 6 month stay... Will soon blog about our spectacular tour to all the corners of the country...
Coming back to this blog, the regional robotics challenge was held in Atlanta last weekend. We were one amongst 47 teams participating from nearly 9 states. Our two year old team was dwarfed by the presence of several other veteran teams who had been participating for years with sophisticated robots made with sponsorships from NASA, Intel and other biggies.....Now,that didn't stop us from successfully pulling a big upset in the year's challenge. Yes... we emerged as champions by beating all the favorite ones.
The match that spread over two days made the kids go through several stressful circumstances. It challenged their decision making skills. Above all, It helped them showcase gracious professionalism towards others. It is all about maintaining a positive competitive spirit throughout the game towards your peers.
I should say that they had consciously inculcated this spirit during the entire exercise of Robot building.
Initially, Our team emerged to the top spot during the qualifying matches surprising everyone. Things were rosy and several folks gathered around the team with requests to pick them as our alliance partners for quarter finals. As always,the good times did not last long.. The very next day, We started slipping down due to technical failures in the robot in the last few qualifying matches. The teams that wanted themselves as our partners failed to pick us when they moved ahead of us in the rankings. The topmost two seeds ganged up and forged a formidable alliance. We as the eighth seed were not picked by any of the higher seeded teams as partners, who the previous day had made requests to pick them as our partners..... our team had to deal with this tough reality...We being the bottom most seed in the top 8 got the last chance to pick our partners. By then, all the best teams were already cherry-picked by the higher ranking ones. Nevertheless, our team captain judiciously picked two overlooked teams from the remaining lot as partners who despite being ranked far below us were performing strong during the qualifiers. At this point of the game, We were the least expected to win.
During quarter finals, Our alliance had to fight the undefeated first seeded alliance. Out of the blue, we defeated the invincible 'top seeded alliance' adding total thrill to the game. The fight then stretched to four games(win, tie, loss, win) finally resulting in an underdog win. This was the best part of the entire robotics competition.... Then there was no stopping, we began winning all the following matches moved to semis,finals and bagged the regional championship. It was a feel good moment for everyone of us. There were low moments in the game when these kids could have easily given up.... but things went worse only to get them all united and fight back . They showcased great inner strength and positive attitude throughout the game. It was a well deserved win.
I felt really proud to be their mentor..........
I told myself..."miracles do happen, often quite late in the game and they do so for a reason..."
Our team website: Flying Platypi
First Robotics Challenge: www.usfirst.org
The final international level contest is scheduled on Apr16-18 in Atlanta.... Hope we repeat this magic again...