Posts Tagged ‘FIRST robotics’

Is There Life On Mars?

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Там ли жизнь на Марсе

Ambler, PA — Is there life on Mars? There will be, and it will be Earthlings. At least, that is what the crowd at the Wissahickon High School was informed by Stepehen Davis of the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA).

Mr. Davis is the director of the Ares rocket project. In a presentation in front of the FIRST Robotics Team 341 and the general public, he unveiled for the first time computer animation of the Ares I-X test rocket scheduled to take-off this summer.

The Ares I Ares V Rockets

The Ares I Ares V Rockets: Image courtesy NASA

There are three rockets that are part of the project — the Ares I-X test rocket, the Ares I manned rocket, and the Ares V cargo rocket.

The space shuttle program will soon be shutting down. The next manned space flight is not expected to launch for five years when the Ares I is complete. This creates a delicate situation. The United States will be dependent on Russia for transporting American astronauts back and forth to the space station. [Соединенные Штаты будут зависеть от России для транспортировки американских астронавтов туда и обратно к космической станции.] Hopefully, relations will warm through the efforts of new U.S. administration. For instance, what would happen if we have men at the space station and Russia attacks Georgia again? There is no immediate solution to this problem; however, Mr. Davis is confident the politics and budgets can be handled to ensure a smooth transition.

The Ares program is scheduled for the test flight of Ares I-X in 2009, the Ares I manned space flight in 2015, the Ares I and Ares V to the moon in 2020, and a manned flight to Mars by 2030.

The Ares I flight in 2015 will re-establish NASA’s ability to shuttle astronauts to the space station. The Ares I and Ares V flights in 2020 are meant to start a space station on the moon. The flight to Mars is independent.

When asked what happens if the Ares I-X test flight fails, Mr. Davis replied, “It would look bad. It would look worse than it really is. We would still learn a lot.” Would there be another test flight before sending humans up? “No, There will be no other tests.”

A lot is riding on the math, science and engineering abilities of the current NASA staff, as well as, the future generation of engineers in the audience. When asked why we are going back to the moon, Mr. Davis gave a good, long list of reasons. Perhaps the best reason was his personal interest — adventure and exploration. That seemed to be the same factor motivating the youth in attendance. Maybe that is exactly what we need to forge the ingenuity necessary to best serve humankind in the years to come.

FIRST: Driving Miss Daisy to Atlanta, Georgia

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

by Christopher Brouse and Daniel Brouse

Ambler, PA — The Wissahickon FIRST robotics team is from Ambler, PA. They are known as Team 341 and have named their robot Miss Daisy. The team’s battle cry — “Flower Power!” Everyone is welcome to their garden. With ten great years of experience, this has been one of their most successful seasons.

The Wissahickon team recently traveled to San Diego. On the trip, they acquired some very impressive trophies. The Judge’s Award was achieved in large part for aiding a Brazilian team. The South American robot had accidentally been shipped to Memphis, Tennessee. Several members of the Wissahickon team, along with help from a few other teams, assisted the Brazilians in successfully building a machine “on-the-spot.” Though it normally takes weeks for a build season, the robot was able to hold 7th place out of 46 teams.

The Wissahickon team was even more fortunate by winning first place in the overall competition against one of the best machines in the world — a team sponsored by NASA and supported by NASA engineers. Miss Daisy took the stadium by storm by making one of the biggest robotic upsets in FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) history. It would also appear that Team 341 was the first East Coast team to ever win the Western Regional. (Read more about the San Diego competition at

The MC Announces Miss Daisy in Philly

The MC Announces Miss Daisy in Philly

VIDEO CLIP: Team 341 In Action @ Philly

In March, at the Philadelphia Regional, Team 341 achieved one of the most honored awards, Engineering Inspiration. Not only do the members try to have a highly inspired team, they also try to spread the inspiration to young and old… both far and wide.

Next, the team travels to compete at the World Championship event in Atlanta, GA, April 16, 17 and 18.

The Wissahickon website also won first place at the San Diego event. It is a great place to learn more about FIRST and Miss Daisy. You can check it out at

For more information on robotics, visit

[Christopher Brouse is the team captain and has been the mechanical build team captain for the past three years.]

Daisy Fever Spreading Like a Weed

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

San Diego, CA — In their first trip to the Western Regional FIRST competition, the robot from Ambler, PA is breaking ground. The Ambler / Wissahickon robot, Miss Daisy, proved to be force to reckon with.

In one of the most exciting sporting events these kids have ever seen, Miss Daisy bloomed advancing through the quarter-finals and onto the semi-finals. The semi-finals looked like they might yank Daisy out by the roots. But, Daisy proved to be a wild flower moving onto the finals.

The Miss Daisy Drivers

The Miss Daisy Drivers

The finals found Miss Daisy pitted against their new friends, the Holy Cows from High Tech High, San Diego. The Holy Cows were gracious enough to arrange for a night on the town the previous evening. The High Tech High team and parents provided transportation and accommodations in Old City San Diego. By the end of the evening, the two teams became close friends. Today at the pre-qualifying matches and into the playoffs, both teams cheered each other on… up to the finals. In the finals, they found themselves on opposing alliances. That didn’t seem to hurt their fondness for each other. After all, of the 48 teams that started, only 6 made it to the finals. The way a FIRST competition works is that three schools work together on a team to form an alliance. So, in any event, Miss Daisy and the Holy Cows were destined to come in either first or second place.

Wissahickon High School, Ambler, PA Miss Daisy Team 341 Robot

Wissahickon High School, Ambler, PA Miss Daisy Team 341 Robot

The first match of the double elimination competition saw Miss Daisy in the lead. Would the Holy Cows provide the fertilizer needed for Miss Daisy to be victorious or would they eat her for lunch?

The noise and excitement of the audience filled the San Diego Sports Arena like static electricity as round two of the finals got under way. Right before the match got under way you could her the two teams wishing each other luck. That is one of the true beauties of FIRST — they teach the students “gracious professionalism” and that was quite evident today.

The tension mounted into what could be the last match of the tournament. The sound reached a fevered pitch. If Miss Daisy won this round, the show would be over. That is exactly what happened. The Wissahickon High School alliance came in first place. In addition, they took home the Best Website Award and the Judge’s Award. (The Judges’ Award is a special award that the Judges may give to a team that stands out. The Miss Daisy team was noted for having supported the Brazilian team. See Robots Drop Their Bolts and Go Nuts.)

A wonderful ending to the event was the Chairman’s Award. The Chairman’s Award is the most prestigious award bestowed upon a team. At the Western Regional the Chairman’s Award went to Miss Daisy’s new friends, The Holy Cows. It was an exclamation point at the end of splendid event!

The Wissahickon High School's Victory Flag

The Wissahickon High School's Victory Flag

The Complete Series
See Humans At Sea World
Lunacy: Robots In Space
The Best Entertainment Value
Robots Take Over the San Diego Sports Arena
Robots Drop Their Bolts & Go Nuts
What Would You Pay?