The Hewlett High School robotics team Roboboogie meets every Friday for six hours to prepare and discuss its plans for the season. Divided into groups of for to six, the 21 students work on the programming, building and outreach components of the program.
Roboboogie competed at the Long Island Championships First Tech Challenge tournament March 7, where they placed 19th in the rankings overall. This was the last tournament of the season for the team. The tournament, hosted by For Inspiration and
Recognition of Science and Technology is a nonprofit organization based in Manchester in New Hampshire that supports science-oriented educational competitions for grades kindergarten to 12th.
The team builds and programs the robot, putting the robot through a series of mock trials to learn how well the robot functions. Builder Addison Star, a freshman, said that being thrown into a foreign experience could sometimes be a good thing, “… It is a hands-on experience that forces you to think on your feet.”
A good portion of the students describe being part of the team as more of a bonding experience, where you learn to communicate with your peers more than learning to code or building the robot. Ethan Abelev, another freshman at Hewlett High described the process as “… more teamwork. [You] depend on working with a team. [I] feel valued. I’m not wasting my time.”
Part of the team’s mission is making other people aware of FIRST through community outreach. “We do this not just to learn how to show people code and teach to program robots, but to go into the community and make STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art, and math — more well-known,” freshman Brian Chen said. The students teach engineering and programming classes to younger students in the Hewlett- Woodmere school district, as well as the general community.
The team taken an active role in building its brand. At Hewlett High School, they held a gaming tournament for Hewlett High sophomore John Sabu who died in September just as the school year began. The money raised was divided equally between a memorial made by the team for the student and the Sabu family’s GroupFundMe page.
Other team fundraising activities included attaining sponsorships from Pizza Place and Eyes on Broadway, both in Hewlett as well as raising $8,000 for the Parent Teacher Association, which in turn uses a portion the money to support the team.
Senior Rachel Poutre has been through the program all four years of high school.
“Coming in as a freshman, I can be a mentor to the younger students just like former students were for me … Even though everyone is doing different things, we work together as a team [and that’s something I’ve enjoyed all four years.]
Fellow senior Alex Tang said he has gained a more expansive education being part of the team. “It’s about working with all backgrounds and expertise. You learn a lot in about real-world problems here than you do in a school environment.”