The Mingo Central Miners and the Tug Valley PantherBots, along with 29 other teams from across the states of Ohio and West Virginia went head-to-head recently in competition for a qualifying spot in the Ohio FIRST Tech Challenge State Championships.
FIRST Tech Challenge is a robotics competition for high school students based on a sports model. Teams of up to 10 students are responsible for designing, building and programming their robots to compete as alliances against other teams.
This year’s game was called Bowled Over and is played on a 12-by-12 diamond shaped field, with two alliances – one “red” and one “blue” – composed of two teams each competing in matches consisting of a 30-second autonomous periods followed by a two-minute driver controlled period.
The object of the game is to score more points than your opponent’s alliance by placing racquetballs into crates and then stacking the crates. Teams were challenged to complete tasks during autonomous and driver-controlled periods and scored special racquetballs and six pound bowling balls for additional points.
The final 30 seconds of the Driver Controlled Period is called the End Game, where each alliance is challenged to push their Bowling Ball onto their Home Zone or to elevate stacks of Ball Crates to score additional points based on the height.
Both MCHS and TVHS played in the championship rounds at the qualifying tournament, but were eliminated during the semi-finals.
However, when the smoke had settled and the dust had cleared, both schools had qualified for the Ohio FTC Championships.
Those two schools, along with Wayne High School, will represent the state of West Virginia at the championships, which will be held at the iSpace Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Feb. 18.
At the end of the day, the Mingo Central Miners were ranked 5 out of 31 teams and the Tug Valley PantherBots were ranked 7.
The Mingo Central Miners - Team 55 - is coached by Rickey Meade; and Tug Valley PantherBots - Team 499o - is coached by Rick Dempsey and Virginia Taylor- Mounts.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Mingo County Board of Education, board member Jacqueline Branch said that she was “proud of both of these schools” for their accomplishments at the tournament and that it was “fascinating to see the kids so involved.”