CORVALLIS, Ore. – Robotics teams filled Gill Coliseum on Friday in Corvallis for a district competition, but teams say the event is about “coopertition” – competing against each other in a way that focuses on teamwork before anything else.
Friday’s event was part of the FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition – a two-day district tournament that will determine which teams will advance to next weekend’s regional tournament in Portland. Thirty high school teams from Oregon and Southern Washington are in Corvallis competing on Friday and Saturday.
Teams had six weeks to create their robots, and this weekend, they have the opportunity to showcase their hard work. Each team shares zones with assigned alliances and compete in a game against other teams.
“They’re also trying to shoot over a five-foot truss and catch it on the other side to score points,” said Patti Thrall, an assistant event coordinator for the event. “But they don’t get any of those points until they actually shoot the ball into one of the high goals or the low goal.”
It’s a competition, but the game is also about helping other teams.
“FIRST has a word that it actually trademarked,” said Doug Edmonds, the Event Coordinator. “It’s called ‘coopertition.’ And so you cooperate like crazy on the field and you compete like crazy on the field.”
Students at Corvallis High School posted a sign that reads: “Need Help? Ask us, we’re a local team.”
“So whether you’re competing with them or whether their robot is broken and you’re going up against them in the next match – you always are going to go help them,” said Susie Dole, a student at Corvallis High. “It’s not about the animosity and winning necessarily – I mean that’s a nice extra – but it’s about making these connections and helping people and then having a really good day for everyone. Not just focusing on your own team.”
Students also say the event is a huge learning experience. Though many students say they are interested in pursuing studies in engineering-related fields, they say team members are also learning about marketing and communication.
“This team is probably one of my favorite parts of my high school experience,” said Marten Landis-Valley, a senior at Philomath High School.
Team members say they are part of a program offered at PHS.
“It’s a really great opportunity because most schools don’t have classes that let me build a robot,” said Philomath High student Theo Faridani.
His team member, Seth Grimm, says the experience boils down to one thing: teamwork.
“What this event means to us is that we can work together to accomplish a goal,” he said.
The free event runs all day Saturday at Gill Coliseum as well. For more information about the competition, click here.