CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Keanu Douglas, 12, and Chris Wiesmueller-Hastings, 15, from Earl's Garage in Waimea, Hawaii, celebrated yesterday after winning a round at the Hawaii Botball regional tournament. CLICK FOR LARGE
Student research and ingenuity culminates in a robot battle royale
SOME ROBOTS worked well and some crashed but it didn't matter -- every one of the 36 school teams competing in the Hawaii Botball regional tournament was a winner just for being there, officials said.
Teachers, mentors, scientists, students, company executives and other supporters cheered as contestants played an isle-style Botball robotics game yesterday at the Hawaii Convention Center.
First Place: Earl's Garage, Kamuela, Big Island
Second Place : Waiakea High School, Hilo
Third Place: Waipahu Intermediate School, Oahu
Fourth Place: Island School Team 2, Lihue, Kauai
Fifth Place: Olomana School, Kailua, Oahu
First Place: Earl's Garage
Second Place: Waipahu Intermediate
Third Place: Olomana School
Fourth Place: Island School Team 2
Fifth: Waiakea High School
First Place: Waipahu Intermediate School, Waipahu, Oahu
Second: Highland Intermediate, Pearl City, Oahu
Third: Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School, Oahu
Fourth: Moanalua Middle School, Oahu
Fifth: Waiakea Intermediate School, Hilo
First: Waiakea High School
Second: Island School Team 2
Third: Hanalani Schools, Mililani
Fourth: Moanalua High School
Fifth: Honokaa High School, Big Island
JUDGES' CHOICE AWARDS:
Island School Team 2, Lihue, Overall Judges' Choice for Solid Construction, Best Design and Innovative Strategy.
Earl's Garage--Most Promising Design
Hanalani Schools, Mililani-=-Best Use of Materials
Hilo High School--Best Spirit of Cooperation
Honokaa High--NASA Spirit and Opportunity Never Quit Robotics Award
Iao School, Wailuku, Maui--Best Repair and Rewiring Under Pressure
Kapaa Middle School, Kapaa, Kauai--Best Team Leadership Future Winner Award
Maui High School--Most Creative Engineering Solution
Moanalua Middle School--Best Sportsmanship and Technology Award
Olomana School--Best Positive Attitude and Determination to Succeed.
Wahiawa Middle School--Most Energetic Robotics Team
Waiakea High School--Best Team Spirit and Unity in Technology.
Washington Middle School --Best Backup Planning
Robots on a 4-by-8-foot playing field had 90 seconds to collect different-colored balls -- pineapples and leaves -- for a compost bin, deliver water, put a roof on a house and clear away "lava chunks" blasted from a volcano.
Once the game began, team members couldn't touch the robots, which were computer-programmed to operate automatically.
The Oklahoma-based KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) Institute for Practical Robotics supplied teams with Lego kits, two XBC controllers and 20 sensors and they had seven weeks to design, build and program two robots.
The teams had to submit documentation by three deadlines on their progress and make an oral presentation to judges yesterday. Those scores were added to game scores.
Teachers and mentors had a crash course in computer programming and robot building in February with Botball inventor David Miller, the KISS Institute founder. He was at yesterday's tournament with his wife, Dr. Cathryne Stein, KISS executive director.
J.J. Olive, a Waiakea High School junior and member of the defending championship team, said "teams are definitely getting better" since the tournament began four years ago.
Olive, whose father, Dale, teaches physics at Waiakea High, said botball got him interested in computer programming in the eighth grade.
The Hawaii regional tournament is the second largest in the nation, behind the one in Washington, D.C., said Art Kimura, an education specialist with the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium.
The robotics program is aimed at increasing student interest in science, math, engineering and technology to build a skilled work force, he said.
Mark Leon, chief of the education division for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Ames Research Center, said he began working to get Hawaii involved in robotics 10 years ago.
"Studying math and science is the most patriotic thing they (students) can do for our country," he said.
James Maybury, head judge who works part time for the KISS Institute, said Kimura did a "phenomenal job" recruiting 57 volunteers as mentors and judges for the teams.
Gov. Linda Lingle and Lt. Gov. James (Duke) Aiona applauded and encouraged the Botball teams in separate talks, saying they have the skills to help solve state and global problems.
All isle teams will participate in the National Conference on Educational Robotics hosted by Hawaii July 10-13 at the Convention Center.