Robotics Team Takes Second in State Competition


  The football team made it to sub-state this year. The track team always sends athletes to state. The basketball team has won state twice in the past ten years, but the newly formed Robotics Club has surpassed all of those landmarks and qualified for nationals in robot battles.

    Robotics Club competed in the BOTS KC 2017 Competition at Olathe Northwest High School where 21 different teams from colleges, high schools, and middle schools alike competed. The final prize; one of three spots in nationals and a trophy. The BotCats, with their fighting robot The BotCat, entered the competition as novices, but finished the day as a seasoned team would with a second place finish and a qualification for nationals.

    “We’ve never done this before,” Bovos said. “We had no idea how to judge ourselves going into it so we didn’t know what to expect.”

    The BotCat team formed in October, headed by physics teacher Molly Bovos, and preparations for the robot began soon after.

    “As we got towards the end they were coming in more and more often and staying longer and longer,” Bovos said. “We kept discovering new things that we needed to fix.”

    BotCat evolved over the five months before competition from and an idea in the brains of the team, to a sketch on paper, until it was brought online in figurative flesh and blood. It began as a kit called the Armadillo Robot the team bought in order to experiment. After forming and testing ideas, the team conceived the idea of a steep sloped outer plate that would be on all sides of the bot.

    “We figured out we needed more power and added a second battery,” senior Greyson Roberts said. “Then we put on rubber wheels so we could have a lot more traction. After that we just had to put it together.”

    The team kept modifying up to the day of the actual competition. Modifications were not just made in Basehor, though.

    “The robot was not fully functional until three hours before our first match,” Roberts said. “We were cutting it close.”

    The BotCat was new to the ring, but the newcomer came into the matches with strength like that of an old pro.

    “I didn’t know what to expect,” team member sophomore Mikayla Hennigh said. “It was kind of just [going] and see what happens. I didn’t expect to make it as far as we did.”

    On the day of the competition, the BotCat fought in eight battles against five different schools. Roberts acted as controller of the BotCat for the entirety of the competition and maneuvered the team to victory in all but two rounds.

    “At first I didn’t know what to expect,” Roberts said. “But after I got the hang of it, it was really fun.”

    In the team’s fourth round they faced Pittsburgh State University which had a spinning mechanism on the front that could tear through armor. The BotCat found itself on the bad side of Pitt State’s mean machine and had its armor torn off of its back. Defeat seemed to be on the horizon, but a complete surprise came when the Pitt State bot got caught on a piece of shrapnel from the BotCat, leading to incapacitation. It should be mentioned that victory does not come in destruction of the opponent, but instead having an opponent that is unable to move. This lead to the BotCat win over Pitt State.

    “This was amazing and scary at the same time,” Roberts said. “But I knew I couldn’t give up.”

    The team scrambled to duck tape their robot back together after the demolition brought to them by semifinals. The team then faced off against Lee Summit in the final battle of the day. After the first two rounds, the teams were tied at one win each, but the BotCat ran out of power in the last round and got pinned by the opposition. Despite this, the BotCat has still qualified for the national BOTS competition in California, PA. (The name of the town is California, by the way. It happens to be in Pennsylvania.)

    The team returned home with their trophy in hand and a ticket to nationals. The Booster Club and administration have already pledged their support for raising money for the team to go to nationals.

    “[It’s] completely unexpected,” Bovos said. “We’re really really excited and I’m just really pleased from the response from everybody else at  the school. It’s really exciting.”