The Cristo Rey Boston High School Robotics team had a solid first year competing in the FIRST Tech Challenge, which culminated on February 1, 2020 at Canton HS. The robotics team spent the year learning how to build a functioning robot and write the computer code that enabled it to perform specific tasks.
The team won one match in the first competition held in January and had an even more successful showing during the final competition, winning two of their matches. This year’s competition focused on the skills of moving and lifting an object to create a structure. School teams worked collaboratively with other schools in the matches, fostering a spirit of teamwork and collaboration among competitors. Led by science teachers Molly Polio, Hak Kim and Christian Montgomery, a volunteer from MIT, the students focused on building a robot capable of speed and quickly moving the bricks need for competition. Knowing that other schools, who had more advanced robotic programs would have the lifting mechanism mastered, our team focused on creating a robot capable of maximum speed and carrying capacity in order to pair well with more advanced programs, since teams had to work collaboratively. Their strategy worked well, as they were the robot of choice for teams whose robots could stack well but moved slower!
Junior Adrian Oller stated that “he liked seeing how the numbers related to real time movement”. Adrian emerged as a competent programmer under Mr. Montgomery’s mentoring, and was excited to learn new skills, having never programmed before. He found it challenging “to build the code, run the robot and then troubleshoot the remaining issues.” Chanelle Tubman also took an interest in the programming, working closely with Adrian. According to teacher Molly Polio, “Adrian and Chanelle really dug into collaborative learning -taking on the challenge of building the programming.” They also learned a lot about resiliency, needing to re-write the code 15 times to work out a programming bug!
Another junior, Miguel Angel really enjoyed learning how to build the robot, figuring out how to create a robot that was fast and capable of carrying bricks easily. “The mechanics of the project really intrigued me, how could we create a robot that easily could grab a brick and go.” In the end, the students agreed on a robot that carried the brick underneath- sacrificing the ability to lift overhead for the combination of speed and stability.
Looking ahead, the students and instructors are excited by the challenge of building a stacking mechanism on their robot so they can successfully compete at a higher-level next year and will focus on achieving that goal for the remainder of the school year.
In the meantime, Ms. Polio was delighted with the outcome. “our students learned a lot about competition strategy; communication with partner teams, presenting in front of the judges and sportsmanship as they moved through the rounds. They also learned a lot about themselves as a community of learners- getting out of their academic comfort zone.”
Congratulations to the 17 students who participated in the robotic club this year and the 7 students who took on the additional challenge of competition.