January 14, 2016
Not even the early hours of the morning could stop them from being there. High schoolers! Up at six in the morning! Pure madness!Yet still they were there: FIRST Team 604, at San Jose State University, at six-thirty, on an otherwise normal Saturday. On this not-so normal Saturday, FIRST revealed the next FRC challenge: FIRST Stronghold.FIRST has gone medieval. From the name, to the castle, to the inclusion of brand new team standards, the middle ages live again in this new challenge. The crowd eagerly watching the announcement barely contained their excitement. Something about this challenge resonated with the kids: either the theme, or that there are so many opportunities to score points. Or maybe it didn’t involve stacking boxes. Who knows? The only way this challenge could have garnered more approval from the audience is if it took place underwater.The goal is to capture the opposing team’s castle while defending your own. In between the two teams’ fields are two areas with obstacles called defenses. These defenses are assembled in place modularly and their placement is decided by the audience and the teams before each game. There are thousands of possibilities that will force all teams to adapt quickly to an ever-changing field. The castle itself is a tower with three holes at the top, facing in different directions. Teams must pick up “boulders” (foam balls) and toss them through these holes to cause damage to the opponent's’ tower. Once the tower has taken sufficient damage, it will be weakened, and ready for capture. At that point, your team may try to grapple to horizontal bars on the top of the tower to capture it for points. Immediately following the announcement, 604 rushed back to the engineering quad to distribute the parts to other teams. Adults were signing off on kits left and right as 604 team members rushed to lift heavy totes. There was much commotion between the noise and the movement of 604 team members scrambling to move boxes. The scene resembled the medieval battle that FIRST envisions for this year’s game. The sun’s rays finally illuminated the wet ground of the quad as the final kit of parts was distributed. Content with their decisive victory, the knights in shining FIRST Team 604 gear happily posed for a photo. From us at FIRST Team 604, the best of luck in the 2016 season!