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News & Events

Meet RTF Robotics!

This fall, the RTF sponsored five rural robotics teams in the early stages of their programs! In this post, we would like to introduce you to them!

A map shows five leaf pinpoints, which are in Walterboro, SC, Lake Placid, NY, Whitharral, TX, Gilbert, IA, and Goldsboro, NC. It reads "RTF Robotics."

Walterboro, SC 

CCHS ACE Basin Robotics 

The CCHS ACE Basin Robotics team is in its second year. Rachana Bhonsle started the school’s after-school robotics program to teach coding and reinforce engineering practices. She stated, “a crucial component of the program is to design mentoring experiences for elementary and middle school students to grow interest in computer science and robotics, which would build a ‘pipeline’ of students interested in coding.” The collaborative learning environment infused in robotics programming aids students far beyond competition. 

Rachana also reflected on how the workplace is changing and these changes will impact children. With robotics, students learn self-management and self-direction skills that are critical for the work environment.

Lake Placid, NY 

FIRST Robotics Team 7030 – The ROBOlympians

The ROBOlympians collaborated closely with a local private school coach to learn the ways of the robotics world. Their coach, Brian LaVallee, finds that robotics reinforces problem-solving through the engineering design process. He appreciates the level of teamwork since the team has multiple facets: coders, designers, graphic/communication, builders, and electricians. 

When speaking about competing, Brian said,

If you have never been to a FIRST Robotics event, you absolutely need to make a point of it. The atmosphere during this three-day event is festive and collaborative, energetic and invigorating, exhausting, and a lot of hard work. It is a fun, competitive environment of high-pressure problem-solving. It is simply amazing!

Brian’s team also just competed in the Robot Rumble, a preseason scrimmage, and made it to the finals!

Goldsboro, NC

Roto Raptors 

The Roto Raptors are a seasoned 4H Robotics Team. 4H has reached over 1,000 elementary students with this program! When asked about learning robotics, the Raptors reported the importance of the engineering process, working with mentors to increase understanding, gaining hands-on experience, and practicing time management. A team leader stated,  “The problems they encounter and the accomplishments they gain while building and competing with the robot will strengthen their resolve to meet their future challenges and sharpen their leadership, teamwork, and communication skills.”

During competitions, the Roto Raptors enjoy making design improvements and reflecting on how other teams approached the game strategy. 

“The nature of FIRST pushes students toward STEM careers as they see what they are able to accomplish in a short time with limited resources.”

Gilbert, IA

Tiger Team 6 & Tyrannical Tigers

Gilbert Middle School houses two robotics teams: Tiger Team 6 and the Tyrannical Tigers. Lynne Reid became interested after seeing information on Lego Robotics on social media, then worked with the PTO to start the middle school teams. When asked about incorporating robotics, she says, “Robotics easily lends itself to the engineering design process which leads to higher-level thinking, problem-solving, creativity, resilience, and teamwork! Robotics helps students tap into potential they didn’t realize they have.” She also notes the importance of students encountering  failure so they can learn it is “not the final step in the process, it is the start of a new chapter.” Lynne looks forward to competing and seeing her students operate as a team.

Whitharral, TX 

Whitharral Elementary Robotics

Whitharral Elementary’s robotics program is brand new. Having coached in a prior school district, Erika Griffith was familiar with what it took to start a new program. Her goal is to eventually build the program up from her current 3-5th graders and funnel it into the junior high and high school. Incorporating the spring engineering competition at Texas Tech, Erika will build the program and then begin competing next school year!

The RTF funded these teams to aid in purchasing equipment, cover travel, and help with other team expenses. We are connecting this cohort of robotics coaches so they can lean on each other and form a community of support. We will be following along with these teams all year and will share updates periodically on our blog and on our social media channels. All five teams are either competing this year or working towards competing next year! Please join us in cheering for these teams as they recruit, learn, and grow. 

We are so excited to see what these teams are able to accomplish!