November 24, 2013

Prior Lake Minne-Mini Regional Robotics Tournament

Prior Lake Minne-Mini Regional Robotics Tournament
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for November 24, 2013

Miss Sheri has been cleaning out the basement and stumbled across Luke and Avery's old Thomas the Tank Engine set.  She set it up to see how we'd all react when we came home.  Of course we played with it for quite awhile and decided it's way too valuable to get rid of yet.  So back in the basement this one will go!

This weekend was spent at the Prior Lake High School Minne-Mini Regional FRC Robotics Competition.  It's quite the show.

Luke and Avery were in the middle school robotics program the past couple of years, but we were nervous about them making the high school team because there's a lot of competition to get on it.  Lucky for us, they both made the team.  They have been hard at work with their team-mates building this robot for an upcoming set of FTC tournaments.  It's been weird for us because in middle school we were very involved in helping them build their robot, but this year it's only the kids.  Parents aren't welcome to help.  Who made that silly rule? 

When we showed up at the high school Saturday morning, I was surprised to learn that both my boys had their band instruments and were going to help perform the national anthem during the opening ceremonies.  I had no idea that being in band would give them opportunities like these, but needless to say I was quite excited to see Luke walking around with his snare drum.  Even if it was only a couple of inches above the floor.

The robotics band played the national anthem which whipped the crowd into a frenzy.  Then we were ready for some robot on robot action!

Before the tournament began, though, the Prior Lake Arts and Activities committee honored Joe and April Passofaro with a Lifetime Achievement award for all of their years of dedication to building the Prior Lake robotics program.  It was a well deserved award because these guys helped build an absolutely incredible program!

Joe Passofaro retired from the program last year when his oldest son graduated high school, but the program is still going strong after the school board stepped up and found a teacher who is now going to be the full time coach of the team.  Our old friend, Mike Lins, helped form a parent booster club for the program and that seems to be a success as well.  The program is definitely going to be different going forward, but it looks like the strong foundation will continue to pay dividends for the many students who benefit from being part of it.  I'm so excited that my boys are two of them. 

We helped run the concession stand this year and helped serve pizza to the hundreds of people in attendance.  We gave them chips, cookies, and pop also!

KING TeC's robot was a champion in several tournaments last year and even made it to the finals of the World Championships in St. Louis!  This was our first time to see it compete live and it didn't disappoint when it went on to win the tournament.  Last year's team figured out an ingenious strategy for the "Ultimate Ascent" competition which involved having the robot shoot Frisbees into various goals.  Here's a video of their robot in action during a couple of the matches we watched.

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