Los Altos Botball gets trophies at Northern California Botball Tournament

Los Altos Community Botball team brings home trophies at the Northern California Botball Tournament, Saturday, April 21, 2007.

2007 Botball Team at work
The Los Altos Community Botball team competed in the Ninth Annual Northern California Botball Tournament on Saturday, April 21. The tournament was presented by the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics in conjunction with NASA Ames Research Center and Santa Clara University and took place at the Leavey Event Center. Students in the Botball program use science, engineering, technology, math, and writing skills in a hands-on project that reinforces their learning by designing, building, programming, and documenting robots. There is no driver! Botball® robots are completely autonomous and rely on their computer programming to start, stop, and maneuver on the game board. Each robot uses sensors to detect changes in light, sound, distance, and color. The robots’ actions are based on the feedback from the sensors combined with the computer program written and implemented by the students in advance.

While the Los Altos team was more prepared for this years Botball competition than ever before, their robots were not 100% reliable. To solve this year's game challenge, they embraced a bold strategy of having two robots that both scored points on their own and cooperated with each other to score even more points. The first match of the morning seeding rounds started out with a score of 13 points that put them on the board in second place behind the Crystal Springs Uplands School, a perennial powerhouse team, who had a score of 33. The next round went better with a score of 30 however their long-armed robot made a move too soon and partially disassembled itself on the main scoring robot. The team regrouped, added some more timing code, and came back for their final seeding round match and scored 34 points which was the highest score in the seeding rounds and was enough to clinch them the winners spot for this part of the competition.

The afternoon was filled with head to head matches. In the middle of these matches, the Los Altos team scored 45 points which was the high score of the day. After eight tough matches, the Los Altos team met Crystal Springs in the final match of the double elimination rounds. With a close score of 22 to 27, Los Altos ended up in second place.

2007 Botball Team at competition
In addition to winning two trophies for winning first place in seeding rounds and second place in the head-to-head rounds, the judges awarded the team the Best Strategy award and the Programing award. The team programed their robot using the C programing language, state machine programing structure, Subversion for source code version control, and Doxygen for documenting their code. A final combination of all of the scores is used to determine the overall tournament winner. The Los Altos Community team placed second behind the Crystal Springs Uplands school with scores that were different by less than 0.2% - 26.54 and 26.58. Clearly both teams are big winners.

2007 Botball Team with award
This year's team was made up of three Los Altos Blach Middle School students Mark Mekkittkul a 7th grader, Kyle Montgomery and Parker Schuh, both 8th graders, and three Mountain View High School students Hershal Patel (9th), Travis Schuh (11th), and Austin Schuh (12th). All but Austin are planning to return next year. Austin is graduating from the program and will be joining another former team member at the UC Berkeley College of Engineering next year. The team was generously supported by the Los Altos Rotary Club.

For more information about the Los Altos Community Botball Team, contact Michael Schuh at MichaelTransparent blue at with underline for hiding email addresses.LosAltosRobotics.Org or (650) 604-1460