Bainbridge Island middle school students have been given the opportunity to learn about and build their own robots through the formation of the new middle school robotics club.
The robotics club will consist of seventh and eighth-grade students from throughout the school district. After the success of Bainbridge High School’s robotics club, Enrique Chi (BHS robotics club mentor/advisor) believed that a middle school program would be beneficial as the students would begin learning about robotics early and would then feed into the high school program.
The students will learn how to design, build and program robots with help from Chi, high school robotics club members and teachers Paul Sullivan and Shaun Eaton.
Sullivan has been teaching robotics for approximately 15 years at Commodore, Olympic College and STEM camps at the Bainbridge Schools Foundation. Sullivan and Eaton had taught together at the STEM camps which is where they first discussed the idea of a robotics club for middle school students.
According to Sullivan, Eaton has “a great bank of knowledge” when it comes to robotics, and is generally a “really nice person [to work with].”
The club’s first organizational meeting was held on Monday, Aug. 25. The turnout was better than expected, with 45 students showing up.
“I didn’t really expect that many students to come on a Monday night a week before school started,” Sullivan said.
Each team in the club has to consist of 15 students and with this amount of enthusiasm, Sullivan hopes that they will have three teams to work with.
The club will meet Fridays and Sundays for two to three hours. During that time they will be preparing for the First Technical Challenge (FTC).
The FTC is an international competition that will kick off on Sept. 6 with an announcement of the game. Each year brings a different challenge that is unknown until the kickoff. In every round of the tournaments, four robots compete against each other — two robots per team. The winners are qualified to go to the next round, until they reach the World Championships.
Winners of the World Championships can qualify for up to $13.5 million in school scholarships.
Sullivan and Eaton are eager to work with the students and are grateful for the generous grant from the Bainbridge Schools Foundation.
“I’m looking forward to see how much the students [will] grow over the year,” said Sullivan. “It [will be] fun to see how much they can learn.”