Over the winter months, the GSB robotics team (Team Chaos) spent countless hours in the robotics barn, building and testing this year’s robot for competition in the FIRST Robotics tournament. According to Middle School technology teacher Carrie Johnson, who co-advises the robotics club with Upper School science teacher Len Grabowski and Middle School science teacher Noreen Syed, from early January through late February, team members could be found in the robotics barn after school, into the evenings and on Saturdays. "I am so grateful to all of the teachers, sponsors, coaches, and parents who volunteered to be on call in the robotics barn so that the students could keep working on the robot," she said. "Competition was tough this year, and the team worked incredibly hard. I am really proud of them."
Although the robotics club is a year-round activity, the tournament prep began on January 6, when FIRST Robotics released the parameters for the 2018 game. The team watched the announcement live, along with several other area teams, in the auditorium at Montgomery High School. This year’s competition, called Power Up, was modeled along the lines of a classic video game. The robots needed to pick up and place large yellow "power cubes," either on a scale (about ten feet off the ground) or on a platform called a switch. There was also a vault in which cubes coule be placed to accumulate alliance points. "An essential component of the robot was the elevator mechanism that made the ladder feature possible," Johnson says. "It could pick up and move a cube with its arms, and it could also pick up a cube and then raise itself up like a ladder before placing the cube on the scale."
The team competed in two events for the season as part of the Mid-Atlantic Regional district. The robot’s first test came over spring break, when the team traveled to a FIRST Robotics state competition in Seneca, New Jersey. Their second event was held this past weekend in Hatboro-Horsham, Pennsylvania. Team Chaos made it as far as 12th place during individual rounds in Hatboro and finished 19th among 32 teams. Although the group did not make the playoffs this year, Johnson notes that it was a very successful season in other respects. "Members were enthusiastic about working with other teams, gaining new insight from mentors, and learning critical skills of communication, accountability, and leadership to guide the way to future success."
This marked ten years of the robotics club at Gill St. Bernard’s, with the club continuing to grow in popularity. Congratulations to Team Chaos and to the students who competed in this year’s events: Nick Bhimani '18 (co-captain), Sarah Caminito '18 (co-captain), Sebastian Laboy '19, Trevor Wills '19, Teddy Lazar '20, Luke Mariak '20, Niels Rongen '20, Allen LaTournous '21, Dylan Towle '21, Robby Covello '21, and Catherine D'Arcangelis '21, Alex Chotai '22.