In the bustling halls of the robotics lab, you’ll find students from high school and junior high coming together, eager to embark on an extraordinary journey. Leading this dynamic group is the Robotics Head Coach, Michael Wraight, whose passion for robotics is infectious. He wholeheartedly believes that robotics is an inclusive domain, welcoming everyone with open arms.
“Join it, try it and we’ll teach you everything you need to know. I firmly believe that there is nothing here that’s so complicated that we can’t teach it. We’ve had a lot of people that aren’t sure they can build a robot, but they come join us and love it. So, give it a try.” Coach Wraight encourages prospective participants to take a leap of faith and discover the incredible world of robotics.
With 16 students in high school and 11 students in junior high, the robotics team is a diverse mix of young minds eager to learn and create. Coach Wraight was initially drawn to robotics when he witnessed the students’ outstanding behavior and friendliness. However, it was the captivating blend of technology and innovation that truly hooked him.
“This is a Student-Centered activity,” Coach Wraight explains. The team provides guidance, but the students are the true architects of their journey. They take charge of designing, building, and programming the robots, fostering independence and problem-solving skills.
“First, you figure out what the robot needs to do. Then, you go from there,” Coach Wraight elaborates on the team’s process, emphasizing the importance of clarity before diving into the creative aspects.
As the students engage in their projects, the robots they build become unique embodiments of their creativity and ingenuity. Coach Wraight observes, “They’re (the robots) all pretty cool. Generally, none of them are the same, so seeing the creativity different teams come up with is really cool.” This diversity is a testament to the multitude of ideas and approaches they explore.
The robotics team is more than just a group of students working together; it’s a family that spans across different age groups. Coach Wraight explains that a few years ago, they decided to integrate the high school and junior high teams, creating a unified entity. This merging has led to a beautiful mentorship, where high school students guide and inspire their younger counterparts.
“We do several local competitions, and we host one every February,” Coach Wraight mentions, highlighting the opportunities for the students to showcase their work and compete with other schools. These events serve as celebrations of their hard work and determination, fostering connections with like-minded individuals.
The robotics team is a tapestry of diverse talents and interests. “Everyone on the team has an individual task,” says Coach Wraight. Some students excel at designing and building, while others gravitate towards notebooking or programming. For those who enjoy gaming, the role of a robot driver offers an enticing challenge, as the controller resembles a cross between a PlayStation and Xbox controller.
“We’ve come to kick butt and chew bubblegum, and we’re out of bubblegum,” Coach Wraight playfully adds, setting the tone for a fun and engaging learning environment.
A shining example of the team’s camaraderie is Alexus Borys, a student who has been part of the robotics team for five years. Her journey began as a builder, and over the years, she has expanded her horizons by embracing other roles such as driving, programming, and notebooking.
“I’ve been to a lot of competitions, scoring top 5-10,” Alexus shares. She relishes the home competitions, appreciating the spacious venue and the opportunity to connect with people who share her passion.
More than just a competitive endeavor, Alexus sees robotics as a platform for continuous learning. “I’m not that competitive. I’m more into the learning of it,” she admits. For her, programming is a fascinating way to communicate with the robot, using a unique language that blends elements of English with symbolic representations.
“Programming is the computer’s language. You have to go through one language to get to the computer’s language. You use some English, but it’s also symbols that mean more. It’s writing,” Alexus explains thoughtfully.
Amidst the pursuit of knowledge and skill, Alexus appreciates the respectful and inclusive atmosphere within the robotics team. “Everyone is respectful to everyone,” she emphasizes, highlighting the importance of mutual support and encouragement.
The world of robotics is a realm of endless possibilities, and it warmly embraces individuals from all walks of life. Guided by Coach Michael Wraight’s belief in teaching, creativity, and fun, the robotics team exemplifies teamwork and unity. With roles to suit every interest, be it designing, building, programming, or more, the robotics lab welcomes all to discover the joy of learning and growing together. Coach Wraight suggests that anyone interested become a part of this amazing world where robots and dreams come to life.
Written by Lauren LaFaive PCSC Dir. Of Communications