Robotics Team Exceeds Expectations
April 28, 2016
Filed under Features
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This September Free State’s Robotics Team welcomed its fourth sponsor in less than three years. After the team’s sponsor Brandon Hernandez resigned from his position at Free State, Brad Simon died, and Teresa Morgan resigned, computer science teacher Johnny Paradise stepped in.
Junior Kalena Nichol, the team’s CEO, pulled the team together in the midst of constant change.
“Instability [was our biggest obstacles] because … we were without a sponsor for about two weeks,” Nichol said. “Mr. Joe Bower is employed at LHS and the college and career center and he took over that as much as he could.”
Robotics Team made it a point to recruit women into STEM. Junior Sonal Soni joined the team after attending a girls-only recruitment meeting.
“I went to a meeting last year, it was kind of a recruitment last year for girls only,” Soni said. “It just seemed really interesting and really different from the other clubs at Free State.”
Along with the change in sponsors, the Robotics Team has dealt with a change in location.
“We’ve been switched around as far as places go,” Soni said. “First we started meeting at Free State and then we started meeting at the college and career center.”
Even with four sponsors in two years and a move, the team still had to raise the $5,000 needed to compete at the regional competition. Robotics Team was nearly unable to compete because of a lack of funds.
“There was a lot of last minute fundraising,” Soni said. “We really didn’t think we’d have enough money to go to competition and then a couple of days before competition deadline was due we finally got the Hallmark grant [and] we got money from Mr. Graber, he saved us there.”
After just making the deadline for funds, Free State’s Robotics Team placed second at regionals before losing at quarterfinals.
“We got second out of 59 teams in the qualifiers and made it to the quarterfinals where the first malfunction of the whole competition happened and part of our intake system fell out,” Nichols said. “And we got too many points taken out for that so we could not advance.”
The team already started fundraising and applying for grants for next year’s competition.
“We got … funding from Jayhawk Plastics and Hallmark recently,” Nichol said. “And we’re putting in about five grants or so within the next three months along with two presentations in April.”
After a close call, the Robotics Team exceeded expectations and hopes to do the same next year.