The Popularity of High School Robotics Teams

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If you don’t know much about the concept of FIRST robotics yet – don’t worry, it’s still something of a novel concept in high schools across the United States. However, despite their young age, high school robotics teams are quickly growing in popularity for both boys and girls alike.

The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is a competition that is held internationally for teams across the U.S. During this game, teams ranging all the way from just twenty to a hundred students compete against each other with huge, 120-pound robots. They have a total of six weeks to battle other teams and compete in tournaments that take place around the world.

Any senior or freshman in a high school is eligible to get started in one of these programs, and most teachers and students agree that there are literally of hundreds of reasons to start getting involved. From better social interaction with students that share the same interests and passions as you, to new ways to expand your understanding of modern technology, high school robotics teams could be the future of after-school activities everywhere.

The Hyde Phoenix Robotics Team was established in 2015 is now made up of ten Hyde School students in Bath, Maine. The team is led by faculty member David Brooks, a professional Software Engineer-turned-teacher who has in the past worked for Symantec Software as a Sr. Principal Engineer. Last year they won the Pine Tree District Event in FRC, and this year Hyde Phoenix Robotics is participating in their third FIRST Robotics Competition.
The theme of this year’s competition is STEAMWORKS, in which the participating robots are required to
  • shoot high balls and low balls
  • carry gears, and
  • climb ropes.
Performing each function counts for a certain amount of the score, and the competition administration will use the total scores to rank the teams.
This year seems hopeful, as this year’s team is even more competitive than the last.
Why are robotics teams like ours a fantastic opportunity for students from all skill sets and backgrounds? Here are a few reasons;

1. There’s no High-School Activity More Realistic

It may be strange to think that an activity based on building and battling robots would be considered the perfect way to prepare students for real-world activity – however, the benefits are more far-reaching than you’d think. For those who get involved in FIRST, there are countless opportunities to operate drill presses and drills, band saws and miter saws, and make real-life decisions in engineering.

You’ll be working on CAD models, talking to manufacturing companies in your local area to find out more about how you can make your machine work – and volunteering to build your skills. In other words, you’ll be able to find out first-hand what it’s like to be the leader of an incredibly high-tech project. Even if you just consider yourself to be a member of the team, you’ll still experience all the pressure and dynamics that come with team-based competition – which could be essential for your future.

2. You’ll Have a Great Opportunity for Networking

One of the biggest benefits that students see when they consider joining a high school robotics team is the fact that they will be able to expand their social circle with people who share the same modern interests as them. However, there’s more to these teams than making friends with a great group of intelligent and active students.

In the FIRST robotics competitions that you attend with your team, you’ll also experience the perfect atmosphere to connect with adults from the scientific and engineering workforce – who come along as sponsors, coaches, and mentors. For ambitious students, this represents a perfect chance to meet and greet new networking opportunities, and gain wisdom that you might not be able to learn from school. If you’re particularly dedicated to the robotics team that you’re a part of, you might even consider speaking to a few of the industry experts about how you can go about getting a job in their company.

3.  You Get to Be Yourself

There’s more to building robots than science and engineering – though those things obviously play a pretty big part. Every team that gets involved with high school robotics discovers a chance to show off their creativity in new and exciting ways. After all, the people who run these teams want to ensure that students are having fun with their experiences – so it’s not just programs and hard work.

Most of the teams that get involved with the FIRST robotics competitions will have a theme, and you can decorate and adapt your robot according to that theme to help represent your team. On top of that, you can also dress your entire team up in crazy outfits that help you to represent yourself when you go out to competitions.

This not only gives you a great way to show off your inner creativity but allows you to fully express your dedication to what you’re doing and put your heart and soul into the concept of robotics. The best part is that no-one will judge you for what you choose to do – as everyone is just as excited about their robotic prospects as you are.

4. You’ll Find Scholarship Opportunities

If you’re a student on a high school robotics team, then you’re in a fantastic position when it comes to preparing yourself for the future. These teams give you a range of incredible skills and experience that employers absolutely crave in today’s modern business environment. Even if you’re only involved in the FIRST scenario for a year or so, you’ll find that there are plenty of different scholarships available for you to consider from a range of different schools. These educational opportunities often range from state public schools to Ivy leagues depending on how much you impress with your robotic prowess.

5. An Environment for Growth

Finally, the skills that students learn through high school robotics teams go far beyond simply knowing which is the right tool to use, or how a problem should be fixed with a piece of code or software. Aside from the general technical knowledge that you’ll obviously get from working with robots, and the problem-solving skills that come with working in a team, you’ll also gain a range of other skills that help you to grow as a person.

For instance, you might find that in order to help your team succeed you need to conduct conversations with other people to learn more about their game strategy. This will require social skills that enable you to communicate. You should also find that you develop leadership skills that allow you to excel at the head of a team, alongside team working skills that allow you to follow orders and adjust your actions for the “good of the many”.

The way that you grow during your time in a high school robotics team makes you infinitely more attractive as a job prospect – and could help to make you more competitive when applying for future careers.

Check out the Hyde School Robotics Facebook page