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A Sport Of The Mind | Carolyn Cui

A Sport Of The Mind

by: Carolyn Cui

What image does the phrase “mind sport” create?

Chess, perhaps? Sudoku? Maybe a puzzle championship or a math olympiad.

But something is missing from that list. A niche game that is very easily overlooked, and so different from most traditional sports that it oftentimes isn’t even categorized as one.

The missing piece is robotics, and as it would pertain to the topic of this article, all branches of FIRST robotics.

But first, to answer your most pressing question, no, it is not BattleBots. The FIRST Robotics Competition, or FRC, is an annual international robotics competition that has been ongoing since 1992. Each year, participating teams are given a unique game with objectives to fulfill. Teams will try their best to build a robot that can efficiently execute tasks in order to satisfy said objectives, while also operating under time, size, weight restraints, and more.

The inaugural seasons of the other two branches of FIRST robotics, FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) and LEGO League (FLL), were 2005 and 1999, respectively.  FTC and FLL teams are given their own challenges every year as well; FTC is open to students in grades 7-12, and FLL competitions in the United States and Canada are open to ages 9-14.

Robotics and robotics competitions bring to mind images of the code, endless hours sitting at a computer, and a lot of nerds congregating in one area to get excited over robots doing this. Which, to be honest, is quite accurate. There is a lot of screaming involved.

But there’s a lot more to it than that. A robotics team under optimal conditions is a well-oiled engine. Each component of the team is a cog in the machine and everything is based on teamwork. One piece of the team would not work without the other; every part is essential. You don’t have to be a math whiz, a coding prodigy, or a mechanical mastermind to participate. It’s not only about math and computing; it’s also about outreach, marketing, business, and strategy.

If you look up the definition of robotics according to the Oxford Dictionary, all requirements are met. Physical exertion is involved during the process of building the robot and during the actual game and both physical and mental prowess are required for success. The programs promote positivity and life lessons, as well as a healthy combination of cooperation and competition (namely, cooperation). But the most important aspect has nothing to do with robotics whatsoever– Gracious Professionalism.

Here at Canyon Crest Academy, we are home to quite a few robotics teams: FRC Team 3128 (The Aluminum Narwhals), FTC Team 3513 (Domo Arigato), FTC Team 7159 (Robo Ravens), FTC Team 4278 (De-Evolution), and the all-girls team FTC Team 9837 (The Ravenettes). This past robotics season, Team 3128 made it to quarterfinals at the Houston World Championship after successfully qualifying at the Monterey Bay regional a little over a month ago. However, robotics is not the only modern sport that you can enjoy. There are multitudinous “mental sports” out there such as CyberPatriot and Science Olympiad.

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