EDITORIAL: Robotics teams are winners

Way back in 1998 an item in a “Winners & Losers” Record-Journal editorial supported “Meriden in fielding a team for the FIRST Robotics Competition, a nationwide contest that combines professionals and students in building a robot.”

“This entertaining educational opportunity,” we wrote, “deserves both financial and ‘people’ support, and we hope it receives generous helpings of both.”

Decades later we can remind readers of the educationally stimulating and challenging nature of robotics competition, which has many of the advantages often associated with athletic endeavors: teamwork, skill development, camaraderie and the respect for fair play.

A recent Record-Journal story highlighted a robotics competition held at the Boys & Girls Club of Meriden. It was a scrimmage, in preparation for a CT VEX IQ Challenge State Championship, to be held at the Middle School in Plainville. Six Wallingford-based teams are set to compete.

The skill and dedication required to participate in such competitions is evident in the regimen. Students build their robot, write code to run it, and otherwise prepare for competition. "It's really the kids who make it happen at the end of the day,” said Robotics Director Laura Juárez. “They're the ones taking up their time as well to come every Saturday from October till March. They become really passionate about this."

Performance in state championships can lead to world competition. Each year the game changes. This year the challenge is to build a robot that can activate a puck dispenser and shoot at a target across a field.

The opportunity to participate in robotics programs and competitions has expanded to different age groups, from elementary school to high school ages, indication that these activities are popular as well as growth encouraging. Older students help younger students.

“That progression is so rewarding, so I try to make it less intimidating for [younger kids]," said Charli Hughes, who moved on to Gus Robotics after CT STEM.

All these years later we’re still fans. These teams remain worth cheering.



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