By: Magdalene J. Hill, Class of 2019
The high school offers a lot of clubs, but something was missing…until now. St. Philip now offers Robotics to its students, who are eager and excited to be on the team.
Why Robotics? Mrs. Groat and Ms. Halbert wanted to offer a club that incorporated multiple types of sciences.
“I hope it gets [the students] excited about STEM [science, technology, engineering, mathematics],” St. Philip Principal Vicky Groat said. “It’s something different than what we are used to.”
Mrs. Groat and Stephanie Halbert, St. Philip Science teacher, started the robotics club with the help of John Burdette, the coach of the Lakeview Robotics team.
The Lakeview Robotic Team is mentoring St. Philip during their first year. From answering questions to helping cut materials, the Lakeview team does their part in helping St. Philip’s team grow.
“They have been great to us. I can’t say enough about the Lakeview Robotics Team,” Mrs. Groat said.
Robotics is an expensive club, so Mrs. Groat applied for a grant through FIRST Robotics. This grant is designed to help new robotics teams with the cost of materials and tools.
Robotics usually meets on Saturdays for Open Build Events. This gives both the Lakeview and STP team a chance to build their robots and discuss the competition. Because most of the St. Philip members are new to robotics, they are building the robot as one big group.
“We are all learning together, which makes our experience amazing,” freshman team member Therese Campos said.
St. Philip is preparing for a three-day competition on March 7-9. Alliances of three school apiece will compete. St. Philip’s alliance includes Lakeview and another school yet to be determined. This year, the goal is to load rubber balls into zones: one representing a cargo bay and another depicting a rocket ship. St. Philip’s focus is the cargo ship, whereas Lakeview will focus on the rocket.
The robotics club is composed mainly of females. Traditionally associated with men, STEM fields need young women ready to break that mold. Ms. Halbert is happy to see that St. Philip’s girls are “gung ho” about getting that hands-on experience in science and math.
“It is nice to show [girls] that they don’t have to be stuck behind a computer to be interested in science,” Ms. Halbert said. “They would come in after school every day, if they could, just to work on this.”
The boys on the team love the experience as well.
“It is much more interactive than other clubs,” freshman team member Hans Strenge said.
“I find happiness when working together with other team members,” junior team member Yucheng Huo said.
Mrs. Groat hopes to expand robotics into the elementary and middle school, building students’ interest and skills over time.
“[We want to] get the kids excited at a younger level, so they’ll look forward to it when they come here,” Mrs. Groat said.
Engineered to last, STP robotics has a bright future.