GEAR Team Reaches Semifinals in the 2022 FIRST Competition

The Gardner-Edgerton Advanced Robotics team placed 6th overall, making it to semifinals and winning runner-up for the Connect Award.

Gardner-Edgerton+Advanced+Robotics+team+at+regional+contests+for+FIRST+at+the+Metropolitan+Community+College+in+Kansas+City%2C+Missouri+on+February+5%2C+2022.

Nicholas Belcher

Gardner-Edgerton Advanced Robotics team at regional contests for FIRST at the Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, Missouri on February 5, 2022.

On Saturday, February 6, the Gardner-Edgerton Advanced Robotics (G.E.A.R.) team made it to semifinals, placing 6th overall out of 24 teams in the 2022 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition and won runner-up for the Connect Award. 

“We were pretty close to going to state, so there was some disappointment there,” team advisor Meg Hunting said. “We just couldn’t believe we made it as far as we did.”

This year, the FIRST challenge was called Freight Frenzy with emphasis on the theme of transportation. Each team had to design a bot to overcome the challenges of transporting objects to specific areas on the field, getting over or past barriers, and spinning a carousel. 

G.E.A.R. faced struggles with their claw mechanism, specifically with the mechanism breaking on several occasions.The team ended up having to change the design of the system. Eventually, they came up with a successful design inspired by a 3D-printer-like Gantry system. Before switching to a more accurate method of measuring the distance the bot can travel, the team measured by calculating how much the wheels on the bot turned per second, which led to error because different battery levels of the bot would affect how fast it traveled. After they switched the measuring method to inches, it was much more accurate. 

“Our practice arena was also a different size at our practice than it is at competition, but we remeasured and we cut it to size,” team co-president Sydney Stuart said.

Last year, G.E.A.R. had only six team members; this year, they increased to around twenty. With the new members, they were able to accomplish more with the robot and had better fundraising and volunteering for the club. 

“I’m really encouraged, we’ve had a significant increase in team members and we competed a lot farther than we usually do,” Hunting said.

Due to the fourteen new members, the team has decided that a goal for next year is to try to buy a second robot kit for the team. 

“We have so many kids on our team that we really want to get a second kit so that we can actually be working on two robots,” Hunting said. “We’ll still have just one competition robot, but it will just allow us to get more kids to be hands-on and to learn more.”

Compared to last year, the outreach department of the team has had a substantial increase and they are able to involve themselves more in the community. The team’s outreach and involvement in the community is what caused them to win runner-up to the Connect Award. The Connect Award is awarded to the team that best gives back to their local science, technology, engineering, and math community. 

“I think the judges were impressed that we were trying to give back to the community,” Hunting said.

In the next couple months, the team plans on doing activities with the Gardner-Edgerton middle schools and helping out on a STEM Night at Gardner Elementary to be even more connected with the community. 

“Lighting that fire and that passion in [the kids] is…really cool,” Hunting said.

The robotics team has jobs for everyone, including jobs that have nothing to do with building the actual robot. The team strives to be welcoming to anyone who wants to join. 

“Everybody is welcome, anyone can come,” Hunting said. “You don’t have to have robotics experience. You can come, we’ll train you, we’ll pull you in and help you find a place where you’re comfortable.”