The Boss Botz are a group of local teens that initially started working together for a badge they needed for the Cold Spring Troop 15 Boy Scouts. It includes Austin Johannes of St. Cloud, Nolan Flint of Richmond, Jake Cossart of Rockville, and Caleb Anderson, Hunter Schreifels and Tanner Schreifels from Kimball. They started working 18 months ago to build a robot to use in competition. St. Cloud vocational school, Vex robotics, and 360 degree are companies that encourage youth to learn about robotics. The kids are encouraged to sketch multiple designs to try out, starting with a basic kit of parts. They learn with a great hands-on approach. Building the robot is only the first step. The kids then learn programming skills to run the robot in an autonomous mode.
Each year the course the robots use changes. Last year, the robots were built to pick up balls and cylinders and drop them into chutes. This year’s robots need to pick up bean bags and place them in a trough, or an elevated platform. As part of the competition the kids learn offense and defensive strategies, and partner with other teams for each match they compete in, and a 3-team alliance for finals.
This competition is now in it’s third year in Minnesota, last year being the first time the Boss Botz team competed. They won the St. Cloud competition, and also a second award called the Judges Excellence Award. This earned the team a trip to Anaheim, Calif., to compete at the World Championships. For additional experience they traveled to Thief River Falls to compete, again winning the competition, but turned down the Judges Excellence Award to allow a second team from Minnesota to go to Anaheim. The boys had the chance to interact with kids from Saudi Arabia, Columbia, China and many other countries. It was a great experience for all involved.
This season, they started on their new Robot design in September, and have been meeting at the St. Cloud Vocational school two Thursday evenings a month. There are instructors and college students who work with robotics who are available to help, and the kids get a chance to scrimmage other teams. Reprograming or changing the design of
the robot from week to week was common.
Friday, Feb. 15, the Boss Botz competed in Bemidji against 23 teams becaming Tournament Champions and receiving additional awards for team energy, skills course and autonomous programming.
Saturday, March 2, the boys competed in St. Cloud against
31 teams. They took first in the competition and also won the Judges Excellence Award. The judges do a face to face interview with the team in which they discuss their designs, what worked or didn’t, and what they learned along the way. A requirement of the team is to show that everyone has a good understanding of the workings of the robot. A binder must be kept with their drawings, photos of them at work, and receipts for supplies. The boys are also mentoring a younger team of scouts from Troop 15.
The Boss Botz traveled to Anaheim, Calif., the second week of April to compete against teams from all over the world at the Vex Robotics World Competition. There were teams competing in divisions for grade school, junior high, senior high, and college levels. The Boss Botz were in the science division of 84 teams, and went undefeated for the first nine rounds. In round 10, they were rated second and partnered with the 34th-rated team, but suffered their first loss against the partnered first- and third-rated teams.
To prepare for the playoffs, the top eight teams are allowed an alliance with two other teams. The Boss Botz were seeded fourth and chose team 1497A, the Design Academy from Logan, Utah, and 7856B, the Fu Xing High School from Shanghai, China. The alliance won the first match and proceeded to the final four, finishing third overall in the Science Division.
Video of all the matches from Nationals and Worlds can be seen on Youtube, search for Vex Robotics-
The boys will present Robotics at the Kimball Area School Board May 15.
Members of Boy Scout Troop 15 presented their robot project to the Kimball school board Wednesday, May 15. The team competed successfully in the world championship in California last month. They have offered to help a Kimball team, should one be formed. Staff photo by Jean Doran Matua.