By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
The Four Points Middle School Faltech robotics team went up against two dozen high school teams and won the highest award, Inspire, in spite of having stolen tools and missing teammates.
Made up of 8th-graders, Faltech was one of two middle school teams amongst some 24 high school teams at the 2013-2014 FTC Connally Double Qualifying Tournament at Connally High School on Saturday.
Though Faltech did not compete without obstacles. The Faltech’s tool cart was stolen the night prior to the competition.
“We lost few thousands dollar of parts and tools. We had all our spare motors, servo, c-channel and other parts along with all our tools,” said Gloria Lam-Parker, Faltech volunteer who helps coach the team.
The tool cart was left overnight in the Vandegrift HS ViperBot trailer. The trailer was parked at a hotel near Connally HS where Geoff Scherer, a volunteer with the ViperBots, parked it. He stayed at the hotel because of the late hours of the competition. The trailer was broken into sometime before 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, prior to the competition.
“Our only blessing is that our robot was not taken which enabled us to still compete. All the ViperBot teams were very gracious and shared their parts and tools with us,” Lam-Parker said.
Faltech is now needing to replace the stolen parts and tools to prepare for the Regional tournament taking place at the end of next week in San Antonio.
“They now have no tools and have to reorder parts and motors in time for their trip to state,” said Mary Scherer, liasion between the FPMS team to the ViperBots.
Any supporters in the community interested in helping Faltech with tools or funds should contact Geoff Scherer, Hardware Mentor via email@example.com.
As if the equipment losses were not enough, two of the team members had to miss last weekend’s tournament. One member had to attend the funeral service of his uncle who passed away suddenly. Another member broke his arm on Friday and was at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas for surgery to put pins in his arm.
“Even with these adversities, our team prevailed and won the Inspire award. They stayed focused and committed to the team,” Lam-Parker said.
The Inspire Award is the highest of all awards given at a competition.
FPMS Principal Joe Ciccarelli is proud of Faltech and in awe of their commitment.
“It is stunning that a middle school team could go head to head with high schoolers,” Ciccarelli said. The high school kids have had advanced classes, sometimes in robotics or circuitry and many have had the chance to work together for years, he added.
“When you add in the obstacles they overcame that weekend it’s like cue the music for a Hollywood movie! This is absolutely one of the most amazing things I have seen in my 30 years in education,” Ciccarelli said.
Faltech is one of several teams mentored by ViperBots. ViperBots had all six of their teams qualify (see story on page 9) as well as several of their mentored teams including Faltechs and the South Austin Area Homeschool Team.
“The Four Points area schools will be well represented at the Regional competition,” Lam-Parker said.