Last weekend, Hollis Brookline High School’s FIRST Robotics team led by twelve mentors and about fifty students traveled to Boston University for their second season competition. What is so impressive about this program is that it is run by the students. The adults who are there are only mentors and do not have say in most major decisions made.
“The only time I ever take control is when I see something unsafe about to happen,” says Sue Hay, head of the Technology Department at Hollis Brookline High School. When she told the CavChron all about the program, the crew and competition, the passion in her eyes and in her body language was unmistakable. She stressed how this program is meant to expose and teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to those who are eager to learn more.
The slogan that the mentors go by is “always behind or beside the student, but never in front.”
This shows how the program is meant for the students with guidance from adults. Another thing that is unique about the program is that Victoria Milette, an English teacher here at HB, is also a part of the crew.
The Robotics team itself has functioning here at HB for fourteen years. The program itself was just growing when Hay clenched a job here, as it had only been around for two years. When she acquired the job, she took over the team as well.
Ms. Hay “recruits” her Robotics club members through the many classes she teaches in such as Principles of Engineering, Robotics 1 &2, Computers & Technology, Digital Electronics, and Mechanical CAD.
The team contested within the New England region this season. During the season, they get to select two of the many competitions they will travel to.This year they choose to go to Boston University, and a competition down in Reading, Massachusetts. In these competitions, the team goes head-to-head with forty other teams, all of whom are from within the New England region.
The team gathers multiple times a week to meet their deadline, which is completed within a quick six- week time frame: not much time at all to get a robot built from almost nothing. In many past years, the team has done well, often placing in the top fifteen.
Frustration grew during the BU competition this year as the team struggled to get their robot properly working. Despite the time permitted, they were able to construct a competition-ready robot named Artemis, after the Greek goddess of archery.
This year, FIRST’s game was called Stronghold. The goal of the event was to conquer various defenses and make their way to the a twenty-foot tower. Artemis had to launch a ball up to the top of the castle to weaken it.
Unfortunately, due to the malfunctions experienced with the robot, the team finished qualification matches 37 out of 40. They were asked by another team to join their alliance in the quarterfinals, but unfortunately they did not make their way to the semis. This is not usually where the team falls, and so frustration fell upon them. Hay said next year they may need to produce a design that is a bit more simple rather than complex, seeing as they only have six weeks to prepare the robot.
Nick Sengstaken ‘16, Co-CEO of the team, said, “Although we didn’t do as well as we had hoped to, I’m still very happy with the outcome of the competition…”
He talked about how phenomenal the chairman’s award group did, as they came home with the Industrial Safety Award. Yet our team did not walk away empty handed, as they came in first place for safety, and received the award for it as well. The team showed exceptional growth this year, and will be expected to come out strong in next year’s season.