IHS’ Code Red Robotics Build Season Begins

Post date: Jan 23, 2016 4:03:55 PM

On Saturday, January 9, Ithaca High School’s Code Red Robotics began its six-week-long, intensive build season. Code Red Robotics is a FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics club. In addition to building robots for FIRST, Code Red Robotics is committed to doing frequent community service, and helping to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in local elementary and middle schools.

Each year, FIRST releases a game demonstration video to its more than 3,100 teams, outlining the season's goal. Each season brings a new, complex game for the robots to play driven by high school students. Sometimes the games are reminiscent of sports like soccer or basketball. Others are completely original. Every season, however, these games have one thing in common: they must be played with the large robots built from scratch by high school students.

This year the game is known as FIRST Stronghold. Points can be scored in several ways. Basketball-sized foam balls can be shot through either high or low goals at either end of the "field". Between the sides are any six of eight “defenses.” These could include anything from a five-pound portcullis, to three small teeter-totters side by side, to swinging gates. The defenses must be traversed by robots, scoring the team additional points, before shooting on the goals. At the end of the match, the robots must also be able to raise themselves off the ground by attaching to a bar, positioned just over six feet high. All of these details are just a taste of the complexity in this year’s medieval-themed game. For more information, watch the official game release video by clicking on this link: http://bit.ly/1K4VMfs. In order to complete this year's robot, Code Red’s 59 members will be working in Ithaca High School’s technology wing from 4:30-9:00 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. As mandated by FIRST, all robot-building must stop by February 23, at which time the completed robot will be sealed in a bag and prepared to be shipped to competitions. This year, Code Red will compete in Rochester, and Cleveland, OH.

On Kickoff Day, team members began to create initial strategy ideas based on the 111 page game manual FIRST released about the game. Simultaneously, other students began to build a life-sized wooden "field" with many of the game’s key elements, so that the team can visualize and practice the game. The following day, team members met to finalize the major strategic priorities of the year, so that design could begin in earnest on Monday. While Code Red Robotics works as a whole, the team is divided into sub-teams for the first few meetings in order to design basic robot ideas. By Wednesday, these ideas were reviewed and finalized so that detailed design and prototyping could commence just a few days after the game was released.

While the long hours are difficult and exhausting for the team's students, teachers and mentors; everyone wholeheartedly agrees that every minute is worth it. Through Code Red, students are provided with a community of like-minded, motivated peers. "Each individual has an opportunity to develop new talents everyday, and to make a palpable difference. Code Red helps you find a place in your school and your community, helps you impact not just yourself but those around you. And it’s just super fun,” says Victoria Greenberg, Code Red’s media team co-head.

Code Red Robotics receives generous support from the community and local companies. Sponsors include Rheonix, BorgWarner Morse TEC, CBORD, BAE Systems, Cayuga Family Medicine, Cornell University College of Engineering , Cornell Institute for Computational Sustainability, Cornell Computing and Information Science, Datapoint Labs, Tompkins Trust Company, Vector Magnetics, Wegmans, AccuFab, GORGES, Incodema, U-Haul of Ithaca, Standard PC, Ithaca City School District (ICSD), ICSD Board of Education, IHS, Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI) and IthacaSTEM Advocates.

FIRST Code Red Robotics, an IHS student organization, is an associate member of Ithaca STEM Advocates, an affiliate of IPEI. IPEI is a not-for-profit organization that believes the education of every ICSD student is enhanced through community connections and support facilitated by IPEI for students and teachers through engagement, collaboration, gifts, and grants. More information about Ithaca STEM Advocates and IPEI can be found at www.ithacastem.org and www.ipei.org. For further information about FIRST, Jr. FIRST Lego League, and Code Red Robotics, please email ikrywe@icsd.k12.ny.us, or go to www.usfirst.org.