Robotics Tourney Puts Girls In Driver's Seat
Wilsonville High School's robotics team started off the school year with a tournament focusing on the girls.
Team 1425 competed alongside 20 Oregon high school teams at the Girls' Generation tournament Saturday, Oct. 5.
Though the teams are co-ed, the Girls' Gen tournament puts girls at the forefront of each team.
While male members supported the team behind the scenes, only girls were allowed on the field to lead their teams during the competition.
Throughout the season, members of the robotics teams can work on design, mechanical, electrical or software sections. During competitions, a smaller group has to be on the floor, running their robot through the game alongside other teams.
At the Girls' Gen tournament at Wilsonville High, three groups of girls worked as an alliance against three other groups, running their robots through intricate steps to pick up inflated balls and carry them to baskets or grab hold of disks and place them into perfectly sized slots.
On the stands and in the pit, team members — both boys and girls — cheered on their teams and geared up for the next round.
Competition season doesn't start until after the new year, when teams will receive the format of the game their robots will play in competitions and begin developing a new robot.
But this month, Girls' Gen offered a low-stakes tournament using the teams' robots from the 2019 competition season.
The tournament "focuses on increasing opportunities for young women in Oregon to practice and demonstrate their skills in a day of competition," a flyer for the tournament stated.
The tournament was organized by Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program and FIRST Robotics Competition.
Senior Hailey Richter joined Team 1425 over the summer. Richter hopes to study computer science in college and currently is taking a computer science course and doing a science fair project on cybersecurity, making robotics a group well-aligned with her interests.
Richter said she tried out each section before settling on design.
"I'm getting to do a lot, and as the day progresses I feel more involved," she said of her first tournament.
To Conner Hart, a junior starting his third year on the team, design is one of the most difficult sections.
"Design is probably the biggest challenge because you've got to fit a ton of constraints," Hart said, noting height and weight limits for effective robots. Hart aided the team from the pit during Saturday's competition.
Team 7035 of West Linn High School also appeared at the competition. Olivia McDonald, a sophomore, joined because she wants to ultimately become an engineer. McDonald said the part of the team she's enjoyed most is the camaraderie. The environment of kids teaching kids makes it easier to ask questions, McDonald said.
Julia Winkle is just starting her second year on the West Linn team and was the team technician during Saturday's tournament.
"I think it went really well until these last couple of rounds. Even then, we aways had a good attitude, which I think was really helpful. But we just weren't lucky today," Winkle said.
The winning teams at the tournament were from Catlin Gable, Liberty High School, Corvallis High School and Toutle Lake, Washington.
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