"It's OK to get stuck, to fail and to eventually get through it," said Blooming Prairie High School robotics coach Sarah Oelkers when addressing the Arkema CAP (Citizens Advisory Panel) group.
Oelkers, her assistant coach (Brandon Oelkers) and Wrench Warmers team members Riley Millam, Viridiana Villarreal and Baylee Sorensen came to a recent meeting of Arkema CAP members to inform the group about the Wrench Warmers success during the past season.
Millam was on the Drive team and served as a programmer. Villarreal served on the Build team and Drive team. Sorensen was part of the public affairs team.
This year marked the third year of competition for the BP robotics team.
This year's team counted 24 members, the largest contingency ever for a BP robotics team.
In regional competition this year, the Wrench Warmers ranked 36th out of 63 teams. The team won two significant awards in competition: winner of the Imagery Award and winner of the Safest Pit in the regional.
The Wrench Warmers compete in the Lake Superior region. Schools come from all sizes.
This season, robotics teams including the Wrench Warmers had to develop a robot in order to load cargo into a rocket and cargo ship.
In order for the cargo to stay in its carriers, hatch panels also had to be loaded to prevent the cargo from spilling out. At the end of the match, teams can climb the levels of the hab for additional points.
Due to a pounding rainstorm, Wrench Warmers team members were unable to bring their robot to the CAP meeting. Team members provided highlights of team competition, showing actual competition on a video taken at the regional competition in Duluth.
Competition involves alliances working with two rockets, one cargo ship and a habitat.
New robotics games are created each season. All teams are given six weeks to design, engineer, program and build a robot to meet the needs of the game.
This year's robot was programmed by the Wrench Warmers' first female programmer.
"Our goal was to make the rocket very tall," said Millam. It ended being about seven feet tall.
Sorensen said the Wrench warmers had two mascots this year, male and female. She used social media to tell people more about the Wrench Warmers.
Out of 62 teams, the Wrench Warmers were second in competition with the balls.
The three team members said it costs money, about $5,000, to actively be involved in team competition.
Sorensen pointed to six sponsors as being forces behind the Wrench Warmers. Sponsors include: Blooming Prairie Education Foundation, Minimizer, Metal Services, BS Solidworks, Boeing and Zellmer family.
Villarreal said all team members are challenged to come up with a robot design. "Some kids come up with some really good ideas," said Coach Oelkers.
All robots are inspected through a rigorous process before competition, said assistant coach Brandon Oelkers.
"I think you guys are amazing," observed CAP member Betty Behnken.
"It's neat to see how other teams approach the competition," said Oelkers.