High school extracurricular activities often take center stage throughout the year, usually consisting of pep rallies and well-attended Friday night events. Sports and fine arts tend to dominate the extracurricular calendar in high school, but Woodrow Wilson High School’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) academy has allowed students to represent their school in a different way. The Woodrow Wilson “Robocats” are Woodrow’s young but talented robotics program.
The robotics program was started last year when Woodrow teachers Brandon Carver and Jeremy Turner, began to advertise a robotics competition. The competition caught the eye of Joey Hines, now a junior at Woodrow’s STEM academy.
Joey grew up on do-it-yourself remote control kits and dreams of one day attending Texas A&M University in order to study computer or electrical engineering. When he heard about the program, he jumped in with both feet. High school robotics competitions have students design robots to complete task-driven tests, with the robots manipulating objects in order to move through stages of the test.
Joey led Woodrow as they competed in Best Robotics competition in October, where they competed against schools from across the region. The teams are told the task and the materials are set in early September, and teams have six weeks to construct a practice course and build a robot to complete the task as described. Without proper space to practice or a functional machine shop, Joey and his team spent long hours after school building and breaking down the course with tools that were mostly donated by the faculty sponsors, Mr. Carver and Mr. Tolleson.
This year’s Best competition left the team with a few more technical failures than they had anticipated, but Joey reported that the Woodrow team doubled the score on their process notebook, and was one of the best represented teams at the competition. “We had a booth and t-shirts, we were much more organized this year,” Joey said.
The team has grown greatly since last year, and the students have had an opportunity to bond over their love of robotics. With the generous 10,000 dollar grant from the Woodrow Wilson High School Community Foundation, they look ahead to another completion, called First Robotics, which takes place in the spring. It is, as Joey reports, “the big leagues of robotics.”
*Editor’s note: This article was written by Woodrow Wilson teacher Will Maddox. He will be writing stories about Woodrow students, staff, programs and other news. His articles will be posted to the website every two weeks.
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