Seven Winters robotics teams heading to VEX state tournament Sunday

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Natalie Saunders, August Nelson and Frances Lundy, Winters elementary school-aged robotics teammates, received a 2022 Judges’ Award in the VEX Robotics Competition. They changed the lift on their robot for Sunday’s competition. (Courtesy photo)

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Seven teams from the Winters Joint Unified School District Robotics Club have qualified for the state tournament on Sunday, March 13.

“The objective going into competition is always to get as many rings and goals stacked on a ramp, or placed in a designated area, as possible,” said Celeste Garcia, a Winters High School senior and club President.

The Winters JUSD Robotics club involves 36 students ranging from fifth grade to seniors in high school.

Garcia was first introduced to the program through a previous senior capstone project and has been involved in the robotics club since her freshman year of high school.

“I really enjoy the competitions and teamwork. Everyone works together so well and the club now feels like a second family,” said Garcia.

While the robotics club does teach the students how to program, code and build a robot, the club also helps develop life skills such as teamwork, communication and other social skills that these students will use throughout their entire lives.

Patricia Wright, also known as the “club grandmother,” praised the program and raved about the development and growth she’s seen in her grandson and the other students like him.

“The development of his social skills and the teamwork that is required from all the different age levels is amazing. I have really enjoyed watching these kids help and learn from each other and focus on what they are supposed to do,” said Wright.

Jack Dennis, Wright’s grandson, is a sixth grade Winters Middle School student in the robotics club who developed an interest for robotics during summer camp.

Dennis has been working extremely hard, alongside his teammates Andrew Coleman and Damien Chiasson Larson, to reprogram their robot to move at a faster speed, while still maintaining its ability to effectively get up the ramp.

“Our robot hasn’t won any competitions yet, but it has got some awards, which is pretty cool,” said Dennis.

Coleman said that in the last competition their team was falling behind so they had to make a bold move and ended up tipping the other team’s platform over and then stole their goals.

Their team was inspired by a robot that one of the high school teams built and are hoping that the adjustments they are making to the gears will give their robot the speed it needs to win at the competition.

Jack Tuel and Ben Nelson are two of the WHS sophomores in the robotics club that are helping to mentor the younger participants.

Tuel and Nelson have won a competition but are working toward simplifying the design to simplify it to make it stronger, easier to assemble and even more effective in completing tasks for the upcoming competition.

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Winters High School freshman Miles Mariani works
on his robot’s program during competition. Seven Winters robotics teams are heading to the state tournament. (Courtesy photo)

Freshman Miles Mariani has also been successful in some of the competitions and decided to only make a few minor adjustments to the build of his robot.

“Our big issue last time was getting caught up in the rings on the ground, so we moved the wheels in to help us get around more effectively. Other than that we are ready for the upcoming competition,” said Mariani.

Other teams are making huge adjustments to improve their chances of winning again.

August Nelson, Frances Lundy and Natalie Saunders, are one of those teams. Nelson, Lundy and Saunders one of the Winters elementary school teams, have already won a competition but decided to change the lift system of their robot completely.

“The first lift system was good but it wasn’t connected properly so it wasn’t strong enough to lift up goals so we were having to drag them,” explained Nelson.

Nelson, Lundy and Saunders explained that last time they did a really good job defending their goal but they hope that by making the lift system stronger they will be even more effective in moving the goals.

While winning the state competition is the goal at the moment, a lot of the students have expressed a desire to make engineering or computer science a career.

“My hope for this program was to create a community of students that are passionate about science and technology with the skills and initiative to become the next generation of leaders and create positive change in their respective career fields,” said Dianne Halsey, the Robotics Club and Engineering Teacher at WHS.

Those who are interested in watching the event this weekend, in seeing what the students are doing, sponsoring a team, or helping out in other ways can  email wintersrobotics@gmail.com.

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