Students on the L’Anse Creuse Middle School-Central robotics team, Sir Lancer Bot, qualified for states following the district competition at Baker Middle School in Troy Dec. 7. The team ended up placing 46th in its division during the state tournament in Battle Creek Dec. 14.

Students on the L’Anse Creuse Middle School-Central robotics team, Sir Lancer Bot, qualified for states following the district competition at Baker Middle School in Troy Dec. 7. The team ended up placing 46th in its division during the state tournament in Battle Creek Dec. 14.

Photo provided by Gretchen Bates


Robotics team shows tech savvy in rookie year

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published January 4, 2019

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Though it only just formed last spring, L’Anse Creuse Middle School-Central’s robotics team, Sir Lancer Bot, made an impressive showing during its maiden season, ultimately qualifying for a run at a state title.

The team of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students was launched in May by middle school parent Gretchen Bates and her then-fifth-grade daughter, Sidney Bates.

“We wrote a fundraising plan, an initial presentation to parents, began fundraising, and got up to speed on what was involved for the season,” said Bates, who now coaches Sir Lancer Bot.

Bates said three parents and their students joined in June and July, and they had the kids build an initial robot with kit instructions so that they would have some experience with robot building. Sir Lancer Bot is L’Anse Creuse Public Schools’ first middle school robotics team.

The official kickoff for the season was held the first Saturday after school started in September. The team competed in the FIRST Tech Challenge at Bedford Public Schools in Temperance on Nov. 9, putting them in the district competition at Baker Middle School in Troy on Dec. 7.

At that competition, Sir Lancer Bot made it to the final match and received the Connect Award and Finalist Alliance Trophy, qualifying for the state competition, held Dec. 14-15 in Battle Creek. Sir Lancer Bot was one of only two first-year teams to compete in states.

FIRST Tech Challenge is a program in which middle school students design, build and program a robot; connect classroom lessons to real-world applications; get hands-on programming experience; and develop problem-solving, organizational and teamwork skills.

“We were 46th in (our) division, but in the top 2 percent of rookie teams by placing at states,” Bates said. “We are proud to have made it to states.”  

Sidney Bates, now a sixth-grader, said her favorite part about being involved in robotics is being able to drive a robot and “having amazing mentors.”

“I learned how to code in Android Studio,” she said of the knowledge she gained from her mentors. “I also learned that hard work and perseverance pays off.”

During each FIRST Robotics season in Michigan, all FIRST Tech Challenge teams, including Sir Lancer Bot, are given a new challenge and are tasked with engineering a solution by building and programming a complete robot and then participating in multiple competitions against other middle school teams. This year’s theme is “Rover Ruckus” in honor of the 50th anniversary of humans landing on the moon, Bates said.

“Our engineering solutions solve challenges such as descending from the lander, operating during a pre-programmed ‘autonomous drive’ time period to perform tasks, collecting minerals (balls and cubes) from the crater (storage area on the floor of the field) into a depot (specified section of the field), and ascending back into the lander (climbing),” Bates said. “Each task receives a predetermined number of points. The team with the most points at the end of the timed challenge wins that game.

“We are super excited about our first year, and I have been extremely impressed with how hard the students have worked to make the team and robot a success,” Bates said. “We are a ‘rookie’ team with FIRST and just starting out, while other teams have had years of experience and lots of funding. Next year we are hoping to expand the program.”

Currently, Bates said, the team is trying to raise enough money through a DonorsChoose.org campaign started by L’Anse Creuse Middle School-Central technology teacher Josh Gulecki to purchase a laptop for the coders used to program the robot in future seasons.

“So far we have raised $753 and still need an additional $287 before Jan. 11 in order to get the computer that they need,” Bates said.

To help Sir Lancer Bot, visit the online campaign at do norschoo.se/e/B05OVuE72Q, or send a donation to the school at FTC Team 14465, 38000 Reimold St., Harrison Township, MI 48045. Checks must be made out to “L’Anse Creuse Public Schools – Sir Lancer Bot.”

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