This year, students at the Y.A.L.E. School’s Cherry Hill campus showed that they were up for the challenge – the FIRST Tech Challenge!
FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) is a nationwide robotics competition intended to help middle and high school students discover the excitement of science, technology, programming, engineering and math. It offers a traditional, yet competitive challenge with an accessible robotics kit.
Team “Robo-Y.A.L.E,” as students called themselves, began meeting last fall under the supervision of club coach Matthew Brady, a Y.A.L.E. School Cherry Hill teacher. Starting from scratch, they met with mentor Tim Clarke from Moorestown Friends School, in Moorestown.
“Right away, our students started looking at robots from a different point of view and their creative juices started flowing,” said Dr. GW Krauss, coordinator of the First Tech Challenge program.
Over the next three months, they continued to meet and their ideas grew. They sought guidance from Y.A.L.E. School staff Scott Reader and Ron Gordon in the woodshop department, and got outside help from local mechanics to build a complex claw for their robot.
Once their robot was built, team Robo-Y.A.L.E. took part in local meets, with students from Moorestown Friends School stepping in to assist.
“It may have been called a competition, but whenever there was a question, the students could ask other competitors and receive an answer,” said Dr. Krauss. “Our students even helped other competitors repair their robots.”
Because this was Y.A.L.E.’s first year of competition, expectations for winning were not set high. However, with each passing round, the team moved higher in the rankings and by the final competition, Robo Y.A.L.E. placed 16th out of 30 competitors.
“FIRST Tech Robotics is a natural match for our students, many of whom have a strong interest in science, math, engineering and technology” added Krauss. “With this experience under their belts, they are sure to do even better in future competitions.”
Krauss plans to sharpen the team’s skills by participating in ‘mini competitions’ with other First Tech Challenge groups in the South Jersey area.
The YTV crew recently visited Team Robo-Y.A.L.E. during one of the LEGO® Robotics Club’s meetings to learn about the club and its most recent First Tech Challenge competition. Find out more about the club at students.yaleschool.com/robotics