Story Featured in Pacifica Tribune:
Each year, Terra Nova’s Robotics Team, the Basilisks, sets
its commitment level for the upcoming season.
Twelve months ago, Ashley Fryslie (17) didn’t hesitate to speak up first:
she wanted them to win an award at the FIRST
Tech Challenge World Championships. Five
weeks ago that happened.
It’s a long road just to get to the World Championships, a
feat Terra Nova has accomplished six straight years. First they went undefeated at the local 24-team,
Daly City Qualifier. Next they swept
both top awards at the 42-team, Northern California Championships, winning both
on the field and by being judged best team overall. Finally, they took third at the 72-team,
Western US Championships, advancing them to the 128-team World Championships in
The World Championships are an amazing opportunity to interact
with like-minded teens from around the globe.
Language can sometimes be an issue though. Unable to communicate with their Taiwanese
partners before one match, the Basilisks drive team remembered that one of
their programmers, Sophia Shaw (15), knew some Chinese. One minute she was in the stands scouting the
performance of potential alliance partners, and the next she found herself in
the pits translating robot capabilities and drive team preferences in Mandarin,
a language she had not found a use for except to communicate with her
The care with which Terra Nova engineered and built their
robot paid off with flawless performances during the four-day tournament. Their continuous shooting mechanism scored as
fast as driver Andy Snitovsky (17) could collect balls from the field. Alas, the good luck with which they kicked
their season off to an incredible 27-3 record finally turned around. One alliance partner after another waited
until they were paired with the Basilisks to break down. Despite this, Terra Nova managed to win four
of their nine matches, but not enough to make it into the playoffs.
However, their robot did garner the attention of their
peers. The student leader of the winning
team, for example, was overheard saying the Basilisks had, “the best bot I’ve
FIRST Tech Challenge teams also compete in producing a
public service announcement video, promoting STEM in general, and their league,
For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), in
particular. Fryslie took up the
challenge for Terra Nova; taking a full week away from her role as lead builder
to plan and shoot 700 frames of stop action animation (see above). Since the judges passed over her video at the
Western US Championships, Terra Nova entered the World Championships awards
ceremony expecting to see another team’s video played in front of the thousands
of participants and spectators. Instead,
the Basilisks were shocked to hear their name called, and once again hear the
town of Pacifica, California, recognized in front of the robotics world. After
twelve long months of work, including nearly every day last summer, the whole
team got to run up on stage and receive the award they had aspired to.
The Pacifica community supported the team through every step
of this year’s journey, including the Sam Mazza Foundation, the Rotary Club,
the Lions Club, and Kibblewhite Precision Engineering. More about the team, their robot, and another
successful season can be found on their website at www.TheOneRobot.com.