Battle of the Robots!

No, Not Search Bots This Time!

BotBall at SIUE

How fun it was to attend the BotBall tournament held at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville last weekend.  It was exciting to see these teams of junior high and high school kids from all around the Midwest enjoying competition and putting their knowledge on display.  The challenge was to collect resources on a playing field with robots built entirely by the students with the mentoring of their advisers.  Congrats to the winners, but really congrats to all the teams for participating.  Also, thank you to SIUE and their staff for devoting so much time, space and energy to the competition.  I can tell you, “I’ll be back.” That quote from a different type of robot.

I was privileged to tour the “pit area” for the teams as they were busy making final code adjustments for the competition.  Yes, these are in some cases 6th and 7th grade kids writing code, and it worked.

I got the quick tour from Steve Goodgame, Executive Director of KISS Institute for Practical Robotics.  I also soaked up some of his enthusiasm.  His smile, like those from most in attendance, was a genuine expression of the enjoyment that came from seeing young people work so hard on something so challenging and their appreciation of the success.

Kaitlin Betz, SIUE’s Director of Development (who seemed to be everywhere at once) also gave me the inside scoop on a couple of teams and was proud to point out the volunteers from SIUE actively involved in supporting the competition.  One BotBall team, I learned, was up until the wee hours of the morning due to a bot malfunction.   You got to love that dedication.

Check out the BotBall Flickr site to really get a feel for the fun!

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