Monday, April 27, 2015

Robots World Championships

    The world championships where fun. Our robot was consistent and did very well. There were 76 teams on our field and 608 teams all together. These were the best robots from all over the world. Thirty countries were represented. That is a lot of people in one place to be part of such an inspirational program to get students to become engineers and scientists. The world championships where held in St. Louis and the Edward Jones dome. This is also were the St. Louis Rams play football. William did not get to go with me to St. Louis, but I was thinking about him while I was there.

Setting up our robot
    We played well on the field that we were on. Each field is named for a scientist that has had a profound influence on humanity. Our field was named for Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie. She was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. We have the modern day X-ray because of her work. Seventy-six teams competed against each other to be the top seed for the finals. Our team was ranked number one or two most of the qualification matches.  We were the number one seed with two matches left. We did finish third over all. We were very happy to end up there considering the talent that was on our field.

What a View
    We moved on into the finals. In the finals we pick three other teams to play with us. We did OK in our finals match but we did not do well enough to move on. What a great season with a young team. We had many good things to take away from this season. We were one of two teams in the world that had a perfect autonomous. Autonomous is the first 15 seconds of the game where the robot plays the game by itself.  We also scored more totes than any other team. That is an amazing accomplishment all in it's own. We did everything that we could have done to be successful this year. We had a lot that we learned and plenty that we can take into next season. 

There were eight of these fields.
 On the personal side of things. I have someone in my life that understands why I am a mentor for this program. She encourages me to be involved and lets me take the time that is required without guilt. She sees the joy that I get with being involved and with teaching the students programming, electrical and what ever I can teach team before they are gone.  What an amazing uplifting feeling to be able to enjoy everything about this experience even when I come home. Thank you Jen.

I hope that you get to go next year because I missed you there buddy.

Your Loving Dad

Monday, April 13, 2015

Michigan State Championships

    We made it to the state championships this weekend along with 102 other teams. We started our weekend off great. We play 12 qualification matches to find out what teams move on the the finals. There are 16 alliances of three teams each. Three elimination rounds and then the finals between the two best teams. That is a lot of robotics and a lot of emotion. It is a wonderful weekend of inspiring future STEM students to keep going. Here is an example of the game this year. We are team 107.

    We were 10th overall after the first day and 5 matches. This is a really great place to be. We finished 10th on Friday after 10 matches. Friday night we got really bad news our gearbox broke. We had spare parts so it wasn't that bad, or so we thought. They were working on the gearbox when I left on Friday night. I expected to come back on Saturday morning and see the robot back up and running. Saturday morning we put the rebuilt gearbox on the robot but it wasn't working properly. We tried adapting a different gearbox to the robot but we had many different issues that we didn't have time to fix. We went out and showed up for our last match thinking our weekend was done. We had no gearbox so we couldn't play the game. We took one last chance and put the gearbox back on the robot and adjusted things again. IT WAS WORKING!!!! We took the robot to the practice field and ran it through the paces. It was working just as good as before. We could play the game. We were ranked 15 going into alliance selections. We knew we had earned a spot to play in the finals but now we could actually participate.

    There are 16 alliances that start in the playoffs. Each alliance has three teams. The format for this year is every team plays two matches and the 8 teams with the highest average scores move on. We played our two matches and waited to see if we made it to the quarter finals. We were in eighth place with 6 matches to play. Each team played and we were still in eight. One after one they went and we were in eight place. Then it was all done and we were still in eight place. We made it to the quarter finals. We were just happy to be playing the game. We move on with the highest eight teams. This round was the same as the last. Each alliance plays two rounds and the four teams with the highest average scores move on. We played our first round of matches and at the end of the first round we were in third place. We were starting to get excited we had done well enough that if we played the same match again we could move on to the semi-finals. Our next round we got our highest sore yet. We made it to the semi-finals. We were one of the best four alliances.

    The semi-finals started we had a good first match. In this round each alliance plays three matches and the best two averages move on. We played our second match and we were in second place. We were looking like we might actually make it to the finals with one match left to go. We didn't have a working robot to start the day and now we were one match from making it to the finals. It wasn't meant to be. In our last match one of the robots on our team did not function. Or emotional weekend was over. We were so very happy to just be part of the whole thing. We are one of the best robots in Michigan and we got our chance to prove it.

    We found out that we made it to the world championships because of how well we did at the state competition. So next week the robotics team is heading to Saint Louis for the world championships. Everything starts again next Wednesday. This is a three day event and will finish on Saturday with a new world champion. We will have a new gearbox and a spare for this competition. We will go and have fun and see what trouble we can make. Go team 107.

I wish you could have been there this weekend,

Your Loving Dad

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Philosophy for Blood Sugar Control (What finger to poke).

    This one is really not a big deal I guess but it is something that I think about often. We were told at the beginning of his diabetes diagnosis (about five years ago) that William's fingers would become calloused over time due to his finger pokes. The warned us to stay away from the tips of his fingers so that he could have feeling there. I have to admit that I think about this every time I poke his finger. I have questions like: Did I do this one the last time? Which finger have I not poked in a while? How can I make this better for William for the long term.

    One thing that I try to do is poke his finger on the side. I know that he tells me that it hurts more sometimes but it also give him the best chance of having feeling in his finger tips when he get older. William will always present his thumb when you ask for his finger to poke. He learned early on that his thumb bleeds more than the other fingers so it is less likely that you would have to poke him twice to get enough blood to check his numbers. He can be smart about things like that. Pain has a way of teaching you what is not good for you.

    William's new lancets are very small and his new meter and strips take a lot less blood then the first one that we had. If you do not get enough blood the first time it also lets you add more blood before just having an error. When this happens the test strip is useless and you have to start over. These little things cost a lot of money.

    I guess it is good that things are getting better, Less pokes, smaller needles, more accurate systems. I hope one day William can live like the rest of us and not have to worry about pokes, eating, or sleeping through the night.

You are amazing,

Your Loving Dad

A Story by William

William's letter about Lucky     William sat down yesterday an wrote a letter about Lucky our dog. He wanted me to publish it. So ...