Robotics team places third in national event
Kingman High School's U.S.
FIRST Robotics Team rose to the occasion during national competition April 5-7 in Orlando, Fla.
The Bionic Bulldogs finished third, a climb of two notches from their fifth-place finish at nationals last year.
"We were thrilled and did better than we thought we would," Glenn Thoroughman said.
"We won four trophies this year."
Thoroughman is the owner of Laron Engineering, the local company that provides technical support to the KHS Robotics Team.
FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.
A total of 342 teams competed in four divisions at Orlando.
The divisions were named after famous scientists including Galileo, Archimedes, Newton and Curie.
KHS was in the Curie division with 84 other schools and collected 372 average points during eight rounds of competition, Thoroughman said.
That made KHS the top seed in its division and automatically paired it with Zeeland High School, the No.
5 team, from Michigan for the divisional finals.
The Bulldogs also got to choose two other alliance members for the finals and selected Hillsborough (N.J.) High School and Macomb (Mich.) Intermediate School District.
Kingman and its alliance members won the Curie division finals to advance to the championship round against the winners of the other four divisions.
Beatty-Hammond, from Indiana, winner of the Newton division, was Kingman's opponent.
Beatty-Hammond is ranked as the No.1 robotics team in the country, Thoroughman and Shirley Henderson, KHS Robotics Team adviser, said.
Kingman defeated Beatty-Hammond in the first round of the finals before the No.
1 team recovered and won the next two rounds to knock Kingman out of the competition.
"We lost by six seconds in that second round," Thoroughman said.
"I'm convinced that had we beaten Beatty-Hammond we would have gone to the finals and won.
"They were the superior team, we were the second superior team and would easily have beaten No.
Beatty-Hammond's team had designed its robot in such a way that it could balance two balls in the goal 10-15 seconds faster than KHS, Thoroughman said.
That meant the Indiana team was able to score in under one minute and received a points-multiplier of 2.5, compared to a points-multiplier of two for KHS, which needed slightly over a minute to score, he said.
Finishing second behind national champion Beatty-Hammond was Notre Dame Preparatory School from New York state.
"We got the Motorola Quality Award at nationals for best all-around robot built and the functions it can perform," Henderson said.
"We also got two most honorable alliance awards and from a teacher's point of view that's important because we want to build a quality robot but also have quality people and that shows we did."
The honorable alliance awards were unofficial and given by other schools to teams that exhibited good sportsmanship, behavior and representation of its community, Henderson said.
Henderson said her team was also photographed and interviewed by CBS for a 60 Minutes broadcast at a date to be announced.
In addition, KHS received national coverage from CNN, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, she said.
"Our kids were thrilled with the outcome," Henderson said.
"Everybody pretty much knew Beatty-Hammond could get 700 point scores and we beat them in one round."