Programs focusing on STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – have been at the center of the educational world in recent years, seen as one pathway for students to take rigorous courses while preparing for higher education and careers in an increasingly high-tech world.
At North High School, the robotics team is taking STEM out of the classroom and on to the field of competition. North has been selected to participate in the 2018 FIRST Championship, a robotics competition in Detroit that attracts 1,400 teams from 60 countries around the world. The competition describes itself as featuring “all the heart-pounding thrills and team spirit of a professional sporting event, FIRST uses robotics as the backbone for the ‘only sport where every kid can go pro.'” The competition in Detroit takes place April 25-28.
Making it to this level of competition has been a goal of the team since it was formed nearly nine years ago.
On Tuesday afternoon, team members gathered in the art room at North to prepare and fine tune their robot, affectionately known as Fluffy 11.0 (reflecting the previous generations of the machine). Some students were busy working on the programming that makes sure the robot functions properly while others were crafting parts needed to complete various skills and challenges required at the competition. A few other students were also working on the team’s outreach efforts, trying to recruit the next generation of junior engineers to the program.
Bryan Butcher is a teacher at Harding Middle School who helps coach the program at North but gives complete credit to the students. “The team is completely self-driven,” he notes.
The work of the robotics team mirrors an academic renaissance that has been underway at North in recent years, ranging from an increase in the graduation rate to being ranked as one of the top Advanced Placement schools in Iowa to a growing row of banners celebrating the school’s success at Academic Decathlon events.
The robotics team is also doing a fundraiser to help offset the cost of traveling to Detroit. If you are interested in supporting the North team, they are accepting contributions online via a Snap! Raise funding page.
Team members are:
- Trent Rover
- Guy Payton
- Parker Jarrett
- Parker Swigert
- Brodie Bates
- Lysa Nguyen
- Emily Boeshart
- Cham Suan