Stonington High School students unite the community through robotics success

Students on the Robotics Team pose in front of a helicopter at a scrimmage at the Rhode Island Army National Guard.

Students on the Robotics Team pose in front of a helicopter at a scrimmage at the Rhode Island Army National Guard.

Story by Jessica Weber, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Shoreline Robotics, a group consisting of students from Stonington High School, Westerly High School, Wheeler High School, and homeschooled students won the Rhode Island State Qualifier Robotics competition. They will move on to the state tournament.

Shoreline Robotics is a community organization with the incentive of promoting robotics to high school students.

Mrs. Fernandez, the advisor of the team, recognized Shoreline as the organization that has helped SHS get into the competition system

“They came to see us about a year and a half ago,” Fernandez explained. “They knew that we were trying to form a robotics club, and they were looking for students as well, so they felt that if we joined forces we could make a team.”

That team, although small, became a reality last year.

“When we first joined with Shoreline Robotics we had two students: Lisa Spalding, who graduated last year, and her brother who competed during the previous year,” Fernandez recalled.

Yet the Spalding’s proved essential for both promoting students’ interest and honing their robotics skills, as they taught them rest of the team what they had learned through their experience.

“They really pick up the skills as they go,” Fernandez explained.

This year, through recruiting, the team was opened up to middle schoolers as well as homeschoolers. Students who participated last year went to a presentation at Mystic Middle School as well as one at the Westerly Library, which opened the team up to homeschoolers and anyone else in the community. There were enough participants to substantiate two full teams.

“We are hoping at some point to have one of the teams be just high schoolers from SHS, but we need to have enough kids who are interested,” Fernandez stated.

With its recent success at the Rhode Island State Qualifier, the team is bound to attract more students. For the competition, this year’s task was to build a robot with the ability to pick up blocks and stack them in a crate-like fashion. The robot then had to climb and balance on a platform.

Competitors must also maintain an engineering notebook where they document the process from beginning to end. To expedite the process, students are assigned specific tasks other than building the robot itself.

“One student is in charge of taking pictures of the changes in the robot, another is designing a website, and others are creating a business plan, which is another aspect of the competition,” Fernandez explained.

SHS’s team is planning to create a student website to go on to the school website, as of right now there is only a link to the main Shoreline Robotics page.

While Stonington’s robotics team may fly under the radar, they have been hard at work since the summer. They met twice a month at the Westerly Library, where the technology director showed students how to use the CAD program as well as allotted them storage room and access to a 3D printer.

There are currently five students from Stonington High School on the team: Ryan O’Dell, Matthew Cheetham, Hannah Lamb, Mason Thieme, and Sadie Pozarycki.

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