FEATURE: Team STEAM Competition Season

Free State Robotics team prepares for the FIRST Robotics Competition


Ashanti Riccardo

Members of the Robotics Team come together from Free State and Lawrence High to collaborate at the College and Career Center on how they can improve their coding skills.

Arianna Waller

As the season begins, the Team STEAM swings into high gear to prepare for regionals starting in March. The team has been successful in previous years, however this year they are returning with senior chief executive officer [CEO] Mei Gordon-Washington leading the team after being elected CEO last April. 

“Aside from leadership skills, I’ve really enjoyed the community that I found in the robotics team,” Gordon-Washington said. “I’ve had the opportunity to really grow into project management, communication and conflict resolution skills. It’s been really beneficial to me.”

The team is participating in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology [FIRST] robotics competition. In FIRST, the team is given a specific activity, usually some type of sport-like game in the beginning of January, and has six to seven weeks to build a robot that is able to play the game. 

Within the robotics team, they are split up into five groups: marketing, creative, mechanical, design and software and they are assigned roles within their groups.

Senior creative leader Emma Liu is working on the engineering side, along with the crafty and artsy side of robotics. 

“I work a lot with the graphic design portions, and it really taught me where art and [Science Technology Engineering and Math]can intersect,” Liu said. “I never thought they could really go together, and the robotics team showed me how they can complement each other,” Liu said. 

Liu is also working to prepare members for not only their assigned tasks, but other challenges that are thrown at them.

“Since I became the creative director, I’ve been really trying to get members to be cross trained so that [they] not only can do creative, graphic design things, but also know how to code the robot or work with marketing,“ Liu said.

Another creative design member, senior Abby Coons has said that the robotics team in itself has opened her up to a more creative and unique way of thinking. 

“It’s made me a much more confident person,” Coons said. “I learned how to talk to people at a lot of the competitions last year, and I learned a lot about public speaking and relaying information.” 

Coons, Gordon-Washington and Liu encourage that others alike will consider joining Robotics. 

“There are opportunities for communication, business [and] art and you don’t have to be a whiz at coding or know how to build a robot when you walk onto the team. You’ll find what you enjoy and I hope people give it a chance,” Gordon-Washington said.