Students compete in robotics competition


After an exhilirating three rounds in the finals of the 2012 FIRST in Hawaii Regional Robotics Competition, the Red Alliance consisting of Waialua High School (Oahu), Baldwin High School (Maui) and Island Pacific Academy (Oahu), outscored the Blue Alliance consisting of Punahou School (Oahu), West Hawaii Exploratory Academy (Big Island) and McKinley High School (Oahu) with a score of 48 to 41.

The Red Alliance took an early lead by winning round one. The Blue Alliance answered back, taking round two. In a classic matchup, it all came down to the final round. Waialua, the defending champions, led the Red Alliance to an early lead; however, McKinley High School picked up speed and began making basket after basket. As the seconds counted down, Baldwin and Island Pacific made their way to the Bridge to balance and score the final blow to win the match, as the Blue Alliance maneuvered two bots from Punahou and West Hawaii to successfully balance on their own bridge and even the score. In an exciting last 15 seconds, Baldwin and Island Pacific teetered on the Bridge and their robots flipped over, effectively taking them out of the match. McKinley raced to make baskets, but could not hold on as the buzzer sounded, and the Red Alliance came out victorious.

Attended by fans, families, educators and industry leaders, the FIRST in Hawaii Regional Robotics Competition sponsored by BAE Systems awarded several teams with honors that rewarded design excellence, competitive play, sportsmanship and high impact partnerships between schools, businesses and communities. Held at the Stan Sheriff Center Thursday through Saturday, the 38 high school student teams competed to earn a spot at the FIRST Championship held April 25-28 in St. Louis, Mo.

Among the participants were seven high school teams from the Big Island: Hilo, Ka‘u, Konawaena, Kealakehe, West Hawaii Explorations Academy, Kohala, and Waiakea.

Representing the state at the 2012 FIRST Championships will be Baldwin High School, Island Pacific Academy, Kealakehe High School, Kohala High School, and Waialua High School.

High school students worked with professional mentors to design and build a robot over a six-week period that solved a problem using a kit of parts and a standard set of rules. This year’s game, “Robot Rumble,” had robots participating in a basketball-style game where teams had two corner and two center goals to throw balls into.

Several awards were given out after the competition. Among the winners were Waiakea High’s Hot Rocks team with the Industrial Design Award, Hilo High’s Green Label Zealots with the Judge’s Award, Kealakehe High’s Robo Riders with the Engineering Inspiration Award, and Kohala High’s Michael Nelson with the FIRST Dean’s List Finalist Award.