The American School in SwitzerlandThe American School in Switzerland
TASIS Robotics Program Continues to Shine
TASIS Robotics VEX Competition


On the 25th of October, TASIS Tigers 1 and TASIS Tigers 2 went to compete against five teams from the International School of Basel (ISB) at the VEX Robotics qualifying tournament. Last year the robotics program was technically only for Middle School, but thanks to the success Ms. Bloodworth had with the FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams, the program was extended to the Elementary and High School. The Elementary School participates in the First Explore, the Middle School competes in the FLL, and the High School competes in VEX Robotics. This year’s challenge is Vex Spin Up, and you can watch the video below to learn more about it: 

We have been working on our robots and code since the second week of school, so it was really fulfilling seeing the boys (TASIS Tigers 1) place first and us girls (TASIS Tigers 2) place third. The TASIS Tigers 1 is composed of Diego Diaz, Mykhailo Varga, Oleskii Varga, Volodymyr Varga, and Luigi Zenga. TASIS Tigers 2 is made up of Olivia Su Canga, Madalena De Sousa Lopes e Costa Felix, Camille Girotto, Chuqiao Huang, Yixin Lu, and myself. 

TASIS Tigers 1

TASIS Tigers 1

TASIS Tigers 2

Upon arriving at ISB, we were welcomed by Ringo Dingrando, the Head of Robotics at ISB. To fuel up for the competition, we ate pizza with the other ISB Robotics Teams under the beaming Baselian sun. The room was flooded with nervous excitement as each team officially entered their robots into the competition. Most of the teams, including our own, are pretty new to VEX Robotics, so some rules were changed to facilitate scoring. One of the changes to the rules encouraged the teams to code something for the autonomous period (the first 15 seconds of the game you are not allowed to command the robot via joystick—it must be coded beforehand). If you could make your robot move during the autonomous period, then you won 10 points. In the midst of the frantic hour before the competition, we girls decided to add an extension to the robot so we could change the color of the rollers to the color of our alliance during the autonomous period. And then, before we knew it, the matches had begun.

Something that was new for us was the Alliances. Although we had practiced at TASIS with both robots competing against each other, we had never worked in an Alliance. One of the core components of the VEX competition is that there are four robots on the mat at once: two robots form the Red Alliance while the other two the Blue Alliance. Because ISB has seven teams, we got to work in a variety of Alliances and compete against a series of different teams. In each round, the mat was encircled by coders, engineers, and drivers, eager to figure out which Alliance had the upper hand. Anticipation and tension floated in the air as the matches unfolded. The robots, guided by the drivers, would perform sharp quick turns in a dance-like fashion. The music to this mechanical dance was of course the loud bee-like sound emitted by motors. Some rounds were full of action, while in others three out of the four robots would get stuck. In the time between matches, we would often find ourselves fixing a part of our robot or trying to change some of the code. 

The highlight of the whole experience was when both of our teams were in the same Alliance. In all honesty, we had no definite strategies on how to approach the match, but just as the autonomous period ended and we had secured our 10 points, we came up with a quick plan. Camille (one of the drivers for TASIS Tigers 2) focused on turning the rollers while Volodymyr (the driver for the TASIS Tigers 1) sped around the arena and collected the yellow disks. We won that round. I am proud of our teams and cannot wait to see what the friendly competition in December and the official VEX Robotics Competition have in store for us.

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