Spartronics holds robotics team open house

Bainbridge High School’s robotics team welcomed members of the public into their realm at a recent open house to share some insights into what the team is working on when they’re not busy winning robotics events.

Upon entering the 300 Building at BHS, visitors were met with a bright, blue banner bearing the Spartronics logo. This is the Spartronics’ trade show booth, a necessary asset for the robotics team. Spartronics is not financially supported by the school, so team members must handle fundraising for the program; one way this is done is through marketing.

Unlike most high school sports teams, Spartronics has a marketing captain, Jon Coonan. A junior at Bainbridge High, Coonan serves as the team’s personal marketing guru. The 17 year-old is already versed in the language of public relations and is currently working for a Seattle-based nonprofit.

And there’s plenty for Coonan and his teammates to showcase. Inside the robotics classroom, there’s a bevy of fabrication equipment, from band saws and drill presses to lathes and CNC machines. All of these items were integral in the team’s production of HELIOS, the team’s robot.

The unassuming robot is proof that looks aren’t everything. On the outside, HELIOS looks like little more than a plexiglass box on wheels, but looks can be deceiving.

The robot was almost entirely built by students and is capable of executing complex tasks like collecting and storing Wiffle balls, picking up items and launching Wiffle balls with pinpoint accuracy. All of these feats are merely child’s play in comparison to HELIOS’ grand finale. The robot is capable of climbing a rope.

Utilizing a winch, the robot is capable of catching one end of a hanging rope and then reeling its nearly 100-pound self up to the top — a feat which recently nabbed the team some extra points and a first-place victory at a FIRST Robotics event at Auburn Mountainview High School.

As surprising as it sounds, building a robot is not the most important part of being on the robotics team, said Spartronics Coach Enrique Chee.

“As cliche as it may sound, it’s not about the robot. It’s about kids learning social skills, interaction, communication and working in teams,” Chee said.

The communication and teamwork skills Chee describes are certainly showing.

The team recently won the coveted Team Spirit Award for their exceptional performance at a FIRST Robotics Competition held at Glacier Peak High School. The award was given in recognition of the team’s consistent spirit, enthusiasm and team unity.

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