Robotics program shifts gears

Robotics team moves to new room and plans to open MakerSpace


photo by Michelle Zou

Incoming freshmen Gabriella Herrera and Falon Jones test their robot out on the field in the new robotics lab during camp.

While most students were off traveling over the summer, the robotics team spent their time organizing their new lab. With limited space, they put up shelves in the alcove in the corner of the room, and elevated their playing field to store items under it. The new room is located in 2-223, which used to be a teacher’s planning room by the elevator.  

Adjusting to their new room is not easy. The old robotics lab was located in 6-123, where the new culinary classroom is now located. By moving rooms, the space has decreased by half, and with so much stuff, there is not much room to spare.

“Personally, I was a bit upset about it at first because I had associated the old room with robotics for so long, but I think the new room presents us with a lot of opportunities that we didn’t have before, and we can make it our own,” junior Katie Guise said.

The robotics team is infamous for using wood on their robots in the world of robotics. They have been creating their robots out of laser cut wood for the last three years, while other teams use metal. To add personal touches to the room, they plan to build wooden shelves that double as tables for people to work on when folded out. They also have hung up several awards throughout the room, and plan to paint one of the walls to reflect their logo.

I’m excited that we have our own space. In the past, I’ve always felt that we’ve invaded the teacher’s space and it was always cumbersome to pack all our things into two small closets. I’m looking forward to making this room our home,” coach Po Dickison said.

Accompanying the robotics room will be a MakerSpace. A MakerSpace is a space where students and staff can go to collaborate, learn, explore and create. There are usually a variety of tools to assist them with whatever project they want to work on, such as 3D printers and laser cutters.

Many students do not have the time for an art or creative elective in their schedule, as they choose to take intensive AP and honors classes instead. By creating a MakerSpace on campus, students would be able to come in and create things without taking up time in their schedules for creative electives.  

“We don’t have a space like this anywhere on campus and with robotics, our kids have the opportunity to participate in a variety of ways that allow hands-on, real world applications that we wanted to extend this to others on our campus,” Dickison said.

The theme of the robotics program this year is Making Connections. To them, it is more than just building robots, they want to inspire others to become interested in STEM just as they have, which they hope to accomplish through the MakerSpace.

Although the MakerSpace is still in its early beginnings, there are big plans for it coming in the future. Students will be able to sign up for set days to come in, and would be selected on a first-come, first-serve basis, as spots are limited. To start off, the robotics team plans to do a make-and-take.

A make and take is exactly as it sounds. Students and staff would be able to come in, make something small, and take it with them. This would include a sewing station and a button station. Students will be able to create small pillows and buttons and take them home with them.

“Many don’t think of it this way, but sewing is every bit as much of a MakerSpace skill as 3D printing,” mentor Stefan Ibarguen said.

Eventually, they want to expand by adding different tools and machines to the room to help students explore their creative side a little more. The robotics team plans to open this space sometime in October, but the official date has not been released yet.