On January 4, 2014, I attended my first Robotics meeting with Archbishop O’Hara High School’s Cel-Techs.
What? How? Why? I know nothing about robotics. I vaguely remember a show called Battlebots and playing with my brothers Rumble Robot back in the day, but helping with a robotics team would be like helping a doctor in surgery when my only experience was with playing Operation. I got up early to meet the group of students, a few teachers, and parent mentors. Mr. McGory is a teacher at O’Hara who asked me to help with the team right when I moved to Kansas City. I do not serve at the high school, so I looked forward to the opportunity to get more involved and get to know a few of the students. We traveled to another high school to join other teams from the area for the official FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Kickoff. It was here that the high school teams learned what their challenge was for the year.
The 2014 game is Aerial Assist, which is similar to basketball. There will be three teams on an “Alliance” and two alliances will play against each other. Teams can score points by getting their ball into the designated goals and by getting assists. The Cel-Tech’s will be one of three teams on the Alliance and will work with their robot to throw, catch, kick, and pass the ball into the other Alliance’s goal. The teams will compete at regionals with the hope of winning and moving on to the championship.
Right away, you could hear all of the students getting excited about the challenge. Then they started brainstorming how to construct this robot. I was amazed. I would not even know where to begin if I was going to build a robot. I was excited, getting to watch these students, freshmen to seniors, design and put together a functioning robot! With about six weeks until the competition, these students will work every day after school to build. I may not have any experience with robotics, but being at the kickoff I realized it is so much more than just building a robot. Like any other extracurricular activity, it builds character, leadership, and essential teamwork skills. There are scholarship opportunities as well as wonderful connections to colleges and other programs after high school. One important lesson of FRC is “gracious professionalism.” A quote in the FRC manual that was from one of the co-founders describes robotics as “a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.” I felt like this is something that can be applied to everyone’s daily life; a valuable lesson for anyone to learn. I am happy to be a part of the robotics team, and I am looking forward to all of the things I will learn while helping during the build season.
Being a part of the Lasallian Volunteers program is so much more than the job you do every day. The people you meet and the opportunities you take can really make the year great. When I started, one of my goals was to give everything a chance and take whatever opportunities came my way; so far, I can confidently say I have done just that. This year has gone beyond what I could have imagined and for that, I am so grateful.
Emma Flowers is a current 1st year LV serving at Operation Breakthrough in Kansas City, Missouri. Emma is a 2013 graduate of Truman State and Helias High School in Jefferson City, Missouri.