The Supposable Thumbs earned their way to the FTC World Championship by perfoming stongly at the FTC North Super Regional where they finsihed 3rd in qualifiying and became a division captain for the finals.  Last week they competed at the FTC World Championships in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Supposable Thumbs finsihed 6-3 in qualifying at Worlds.  Due to the need to replay matches, the Thumbs played 3 matches in quick succession at the end of qualifying.  The first was their final qualifying match and the other two were replays of previous matches that didn't count.  The Thumbs won all 3 matches and improved their ranking from the mid-30s to 16th on their field.   Only 6 teams finished with a better qualifying record in the Franklin division. 

The needle for the Supposable Thumbs is pointing as up as their thumbs always do.  The team returns 5 seniors for next season and gained important experience during the 2013-2014 FTC Block Party Season.

For more information about the Supposable Thumbs, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

This past August, over 23,000 teams and nearly a quarter millions students from 63 countries world-wide began creating small robots and doing scientific research for a unique after-school education program called FIRST Lego League (FLL). The FIRST foundation (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) sponsors student exploration into Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) by hosting robotics competitions in a sports like atmosphere with the goal to promote more student awareness of the career possibilities in STEM fields. Teams competed throughout the fall and winter in the FLL “Nature’s Fury” contest to earn one of 80 invitations to the FIRST World Festival, held last week at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, MO, as a part of the FIRST Robotics Championships Week. A team of middle school students from Heritage Christian Schools in Brookfield named “The Strategic Headquarters of Innovative Engineering and Limitless Design,” or S.H.I.E.L.D. for short, earned one of those invitations in December by winning the Wisconsin State FLL Championship. Last week S.H.I.E.L.D. showed that Wisconsin students can compete with the best in the world by winning the 3rd Place Champion Award at the World Festival. This was the highest honor awarded to any team in the Western Hemisphere and the highest award given to a middle school team in the world. Governor Scott Walker has proclaimed tomorrow, April 29th, to be “Innovative Engineering and Limitless Design Day” throughout the State of Wisconsin.

“Some adults think kids can’t make a difference in the world, but we think we can,” S.H.I.E.L.D. member Vivica Lewis told the international panel of judges last week in St. Louis as the team presented its research project to provide hurricane-proof school buildings for Haiti. Throughout the winter, the students worked with the architectural firm Christopher Kidd and Associates to take their initial research concepts from idea to formal blueprints, building a scale model of their building design to present at the championship. “Our design helps with the significant education need in Haiti while also providing shelter from oncoming hurricanes, a safe place during earthquakes, and a source of clean drinking water” added research leader Sam Gibbons.

“The science is just part of the fun,” says robot design manager Timothy Keup. “We also design, build, and program a robot capable of scoring as many points as possible on a themed playing field in a timed match.” In this “Sport for the Mind” there are no remote controls involved. Using Lego Mindstorms robotics components, the students create autonomous robots that sense their way around the playing field automatically. “Our robot for the World Festival was full of innovative ideas,” said team member, Samuel Castro. “It could score almost every mission and even drove upside down during part of the match in order to be most efficient.”

According to team member Chandra Chouhan, the team has also been holding robotics camps in the central city of Milwaukee this spring to bring more awareness of STEM careers to students who have not yet had the opportunity to see robotics or FLL in person. “The judges really encouraged us to continue with our plans to start and directly mentor new teams in the central city next year and we are very excited to do this because our camps went so well this past spring,” Chouhan added.

“We set a goal at the beginning of the season to create the world’s best universal robot software library for FLL,” indicated team Captain, Daniel Anderson. “After the Wisconsin Championship we were pretty sure we had done it, but the feedback from judges and other teams at the World Festival confirmed it. We want to give back and help others grow their skills all over the world.” S.H.I.E.L.D. is in the process of writing a 600 page step-by-step teaching tutorial book, available this fall, to help other teams learn their programming process and the techniques they used to create the software.

“Competing at the ‘Olympics of Robotics’ was a real honor,” indicated team member Jake Gibbons. “Many International teams at the World Festival have Junior and Senior High School students because the age rules are different overseas. Those international teams did some amazing work and it is a tremendous honor that our team of 6th-8th graders could compete with them and win a top award.” Over 12,000 students and over 700 teams from around the world travelled to St. Louis for the FIRST Championships this past week. “We are honored to be one of a handful of teams to be declared Champion,” said team member Cassie Bittner.

In existence since 1989, FIRST now encompasses 4 major STEM programs that span the entire K-12 range. S.H.I.E.L.D. is one of 8 FIRST teams in the rapidly growing Patriot Robotics after-school program at Heritage Christian School in Brookfield, including Junior FLL for grades K-3, FLL for grades 4-9 and FIRST Tech Challenge for High School. More information about FIRST and FIRST Lego League can be found at www.usfirst.org and www.firstlegoleague.org. More information about the Patriot Robotics program at Heritage Christian School can be found at www.patriotrobotics.org. More about Heritage Christian School is available at www.HeritageChristianSchools.org.

More information about last week’s FIRST Championship can be found here: http://www.usfirst.org/aboutus/12000-students-bring-their-custom-built-robots-and-team-spirit-to-the-ultimate-sport-for-the-mind-showdown-at-2014-first-championship.

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If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview, live demonstration or on-air appearance, please call Mark Keup at 414-581-8690 or e-mail Mark at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2014 Wisconsin_FTC_Championship_Alliance-sm

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Congratulations to FTC Team 4106 The Supposable Thumbs on an amazing day at the Wisconsin State FTC Championship!  The Supposable Thumbs went 3-2 during qualifying with every match very closely contested.  Finishing 8th in qualifying, the Thumbs demonstrated that their robot was very capable, despite a few technical issues and the matchup difficulties that resulted in their two qualifying losses.  In one match the Thumbs scored an amazing 19 blocks in driver operated mode! 

By performing well in the qualifying rounds, the Thumbs attracted the attention of their good friends the Patronum Bots from East Troy, who finished in the 3rd of 4 captain positions.  When it came for the finals draft, Patronum chose the Thumbs with their first pick and eventually also picked the Robo Hackers, team 4605 from Beaver Dam, a team that has competed very strongly in the finals in previous years.

During the semifinal matches, the Thumbs and their captain scored extremely well together, scoring over 200 points and winning the first match of semifinals.  Patronum Bots and Robo Hackers won the second semifinal match to win the semifinal round 2 matches to none!

During finals, the Thumbs and Patronum went first and scored an amazing 281 points in the first match, the highest score (by far) of the tournament.  They needed it, too, as their opposition alliance scored 224!  In the next match, Patronum Bots and Robo Hackers went again.  Our alliance fell behind during autonomous mode by 40 points, but they fought hard through the driver operated period and closed the gap.  When the opposing alliance played defense a little too aggressively at the end, they scored a 50 point penalty that send our alliance to a 212-168 victory.  With the 2nd win in the finals round, our alliance won the State Championship!

During the awards ceremony, the Supposable Thumbs were recognized for their contribution to the State Champion alliance.  Additionally, they won the 2nd place “Inspire” award.  The Inspire awards are considered the top awards at an FTC tournament, representing a team with a superior robot and strategy, superior designs and a strong commitment to spreading the FIRST program and STEM education message in their community.  The 1st and 2nd place Inspire winners plus the captain of the winning alliance earn invites to the FTC North Super Regional the first week of April on the campus of the University of Iowa.  The Supposable Thumbs have earned their way to this mega-tournament where they will compete with 72 teams from 12 Midwestern states!   Teams at the 4 Super Regionals will compete for berths in the FTC World Championships in St. Louis in late April.

With this victory, the Patriot Robotics program has earned the distinction of winning the Wisconsin championship in both FIRST Lego League AND FIRST Tech Challenge in the same season!   God is doing amazing thing in our midst and showering unimaginable blessings on our students as they work so hard in the relative obscurity of our little room in the back of the Weatherstone campus!

On January 19th, the Supposable Thumbs travelled to Gary, Indiana to compete in the Northwest Indiana FTC Qualifier.  It took a mad scramble by the team, working nearly every day for the last 2 weeks to be ready to go and they pulled it all together in the nick of time! 

The Thumbs won their first 2 matches, lost their second two and won their final match.  They were driving the robot for the first extended periods of time and learned a lot about its strengths and weaknesses.

During finals selection, the 2nd qualifiying alliance captian, 2888 Oddly Charged Particles from Missouri combined with the 3rd qualifyingn alliance captain, our friends 5972 Patronum Bots from East Troy, WI.  This alliance chose the Supposable Thumbs to compete with them in the finals!

During the semifinals, 2888 and 5972 won the first match and 2888 and the Thumbs won the 2nd match to advance to the final matches.   In the first match we lost, partly due to a disconnect by one of the alliance members in the first match and then our grabber broke in the 2nd match.  The alliance we played againt, headed by 6007 Octopi and also containing 3875 Beastie Bots were extremely strong and earned a well deserved championship.

Due to being on the "Finalist" alliance, the Supposable Thumbs earned advancement to the Indiana State Championship on March 15th!