The Belle Plaine Cyber Tigers are working on building a robot and developing a 3D carnival game for the 2021 First Robotics Competition.

The Belle Plaine team will participate in two sections of the virtual competition this year. The first is called "INFINITE RECHARGE at Home" where students program a robot to complete a series of challenges like shooting a softball into different goals and driving itself through a maze.

Eight students are coming to school in-person several days a week to work on building this robot. The base is the same as the team's 2020 machine but with adjusted parts to fit this year’s challenges.

“With a little bit of help, the kids keep figuring it out,” said Robotics Coach Jeff Heine.“They just look at things analytically and learn what works and what doesn’t work.”

Heine said one of the challenges this team faces is their budget.

“There are bigger teams that can buy all kinds of parts and experiment around. We try to figure out what we need before we purchase it, so we are not purchasing stuff that we are not going to use,” he said.

The second competition is called "The Game Design Challenge." Six students are working remotely to create a FIRST Robotics Competition game.

The Belle Plaine team chose to go with a carnival theme that directs robots to participate in a ring toss and ball game to win as many points as possible. “

Discussing different ideas and then brainstorming the carnival theme idea has been really interesting,” said sophomore Paul Woestehoff.

The students are creating the game in a 3D design program and will present the design idea and virtual renderings to the judges.

“We've tried to limit ourselves to the 3D design, not only because of the lack of ability to be in person, but also because it’s a great opportunity to learn about 3D design, which is very important even outside of robotics,” said sophomore Logan Krant.

The Tigers will need to have their robot and game design complete by March 4 for the 2021 competition.

In 2019, the Belle Plaine Cyber Tigers took ninth place out of 60 teams from around the world at the regional competition. In 2020, the Great Northern Regional was canceled due to COVID-19. 

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