When Eastern Christian High School launched a STEAM program at the beginning of this school year, one of the great new classes offered was “Robotics and Micro-electronics.” Taught by Mr. Tim Steen, the class began by learning the basics of programming. Students built simple robots that executed pre-assigned tasks.
But as the semester of EC’s first Robotics program progressed, it became obvious that these students were ready for more. Mr. Steen challenged the students to a first semester culminating activity: “Robot Fight Night.” Students were given the major project of designing unique battle-ready remote-control robots that would compete against each other in a tournament at the end of the semester.
Last night, that vision came to an amazing reality in front of a raucous, standing-room only crowd in the ECHS cafeteria-turned “Robo-arena.” “Robo-fans” from the EC community cheered on each Bot as they progressed through the double-elimination tournament. Prior to the tournament, fans were given the opportunity to meet the pilots, touch the robots, learn about each craft’s strengths and goals, and vote on who they thought was going to win.
The 8-team Robo-Field competing in the tournament included
Tusk, piloted by Ali Sytsma and Michael Ji
Disco Wizard, piloted by Mitchell Haddad and Joe Jiang
M.I.T. (Mini Institute of Technology), piloted by Kyle Dykstra and Sung Namgung
Wedge Antilles, piloted by Mr. Tim Steen
The Crane, piloted by Calvin Gorter and Shaniah Taylor
ThunderChicken, piloted by Matt Rief, Nicolas Cortes, and Henry Ruitenberg
The Lawnmower, piloted by Luke Ye and Jonathan Hartensveld
Bulldog Stryker, piloted by Mark Van Reeth and Aaron De Rosa
These robots had run several practice rounds prior to the tournament to determine seeding. By the end of the night, the tournament “went chalk,” as 2 seeded Disco Warrior faced off against #1 seed The Crane for the inaugural Robot Fight Night Championship. With the tournament in its final seconds, and with Disco Warrior with a big lead on points, The Crane, piloted by senior Calvin Gorter, needed an elimination to secure a championship. And that’s precisely what happened with 30 seconds remaining. The capacity crown on hand roared with excitement.
As and added bit of fun, all 8 robots competed in a “Battle Royal”- 3 minutes of chaotic 8-way Robo-battle. The Robot closest to the center-X by the end of 3 minutes would win. By the slimmest of margins, M.I.T, the tournaments smallest robot at only 3 pounds, 6 ounces, claimed that prize.
The evening ended with the opportunity for any interested fans to pilot some of their favorite robots- an opportunity immediately claimed by many of the children on hand.
The first year of Robot Fight Night exceeded our wildest dreams. It was unlike anything we’ve seen before. It was an amazing combination of academics and competitive sports. The excitement in the room around the learning and competition that these talented and dedicated students accomplished was incredible. We can’t wait to see where the future of the Robotics program goes from here!