The Robotics Team is a new club at Barlow High School preparing to compete in the upcoming competition for FIRST Robotics. Led by student project managers Zack Loery and Ryan Lei, and advised by Rosemary Riber and Daniel Rivers, the club includes some of Barlow’s finest math and science minds.
It all started two years ago when Ryan had the idea to start the club. But with only a few people showing interest, the club was unable to gain any momentum. Last year, Ryan was able to gain experience and learn a lot by participating on the Brookfield team. He brought what he learned back to Barlow and finally, after three years, the club has grown and is now able to compete.
The two project managers could not be happier. They both have many goals for the club that they wish to accomplish. “I am hoping to get a real engineering experience. In school you get a few problems and everything is pre-made for you. Here it is a lot more natural. Problems come up and you have to figure out how to solve them. There are real constraints,” said Zach.
Ryan wants to be able to share this experience with others. “I want to get more interest from students from our school because we have never really had an engineering program. … I want to give the students at Joel Barlow High School a good engineering experience.”
On Jan. 5, the team will be given a kit of parts to start building and programming a robot. Then in March, its robot will compete in a challenge where it may have to do anything from shooting a basketball to placing rings on a pole. If the team wins the regional competition it will move on to nationals and then face international competitors.
As a first-year team, Barlow is coming into the competition as an underdog, though some members of the team have participated in the competition in previous years.
There is an upside to the team’s rookie status. It made it eligible for the NASA Program Growth Grant. Barlow was one of only two schools in Connecticut picked for this grant, which covers the registration fees for the competition and more.
Despite the fact that they still need a few thousand dollars to participate in the competition, the boys of the Robotics Team have not given up. They are applying for more grants, including a United Technologies Grant. They hope that between money from the grants and additional donations, including a button maker, team T-shirts, and protective eyewear, they will have a shot in the high-stakes competition.
The Robotics Team is also looking for manpower. It needs more of the smart minds of Barlow to help, as it is not easy to build a robot. Anyone who is interested in joining the Robotics Club or wants to make a donation or help in any way is asked to email one of the student project managers at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the team may be found at joelbarlowps.org under the student activities tag.
Carrie Twersky is a junior at Joel Barlow High School.