VHS Robotics Team goes to state
Aidan Janssen, Reporter & Designer
Robots play an integral part in today’s society which is more than likely to grow it in the near future. Vashon robotics team #5961 is exploring the possibilities that this technology has to offer.
The Vashon PTSA robotics program has existed within the school system since 2007, this will be the sixth time they have reached state. However, this year’s team is made up of, for the most part, an entirely new group of members.
The team is comprised of eight members: eighth graders Caleb Cullimore and Oliver Proffit, freshman Tyler Huffman, sophomores Grace Carroll Chance Mentink and Atticus Bates, and juniors Cazmire Cullimore, Henry Profit, and Matthew Jones. They are organized by Bruce Johns, a parent volunteer who is also a Systems Support Analyst for Canon Solutions America. This year, the team qualified for a statewide robotics competition that will be taking place on February, 10th at Showare Center in Kent. Free for spectators at 11am.
This success and opportunity has been exciting for the team.
“Last year, we placed like 15th and I was really happy with that, as that was our first year as a team,” team engineer Mentink said “That’s a good accomplishment, but [this] second year is a completely new team, and yet we … [were] able to make to state.”
Though they are still a new team, they have already mastered many aspects of robot design and operation, including planning how the robot will function, engineering, computer programming, and mechanical capabilities. They have also looked at the mathematics and physics.
One of the requirements for the team’s state-qualifying robot was that it had to lift itself up. This meant it needed to be both lightweight and sturdy, requiring a great deal of inventive engineering.
“Robotics programming is different than other programming in that things are a lot less predictable,” Cazmire Cullimore said. “This means that it is very important not just to make a program that should work, but to make one that allows for self-correction if the robot gets slightly off course.”
Cazmire’s programming ability has been a great addition to the team. He began working with robotics in fifth grade, and has been programming since middle school.
The new team dynamic can still be challenging, though.
“It’s a little rough,” Mentink said. “We have a younger team, so we’re not really used to working together. But we’re really starting to take in everyone’s ideas and talk about it a lot better, which is one of the reasons I think we did [so] well this year.”
This growing sense of camaraderie is important to the team, both for their group community and personal growth.
“Robotics is just like one of those many different kinds of hobbies that people get together to go and do and there’s a lot of excitement and there’s a lot of learning that comes out of it,” Bates said. “I felt like … I’d come out of this big jungle of just terrifying challenges … and I feel like I know a little bit more than I did last time.”