Robotics club hopes to compete at Liberty Science Center


Photo Credit: Githmie Goonatilleke

The GRHS Robotics team working on a robot.

FIRST Tech Challenge

by Githmie Goonatilleke, Senior Staff Writer

They’re not in—yet.

The Glen Rock Robotics team, also known by the team name ‘Cosmic Goose,’ is hoping to compete at Liberty Science Center on Jan. 9, but they’re currently on a waiting list for a spot in the tournament.

FIRST Tech Challenge is a robotics league created to allow students in grades 6-12 to compete after creating mechanized robots that can accomplish specific tasks. The students involved in competitions are responsible for designing, building and programming their own robots.

The FTC league presents robotics teams around the country with a different challenge each year. This year, the challenge, dubbed ‘Res-Q,’ pits two teams against one another on a foam playing field. The field will be covered in ‘debris,’ foam blocks, that the robots will first need to remove. The goal is to simulate conditions in a rescue mission.

After collecting the debris, the robots must deliver their collected debris to Mountain Goals or Floor Goals, which are on different parts of the field.

Robotics teams in the North Jersey region will be able to compete with their Res-Q robots on different dates. The Liberty Science Center meet, along with a handful of other meets in 2016, are qualifier tournaments. These competitions qualify teams to go to half-state competitions. If Glen Rock Robotics were to win the qualifier tournament at Liberty Science Center they would then compete at half-states. After half-state competitions there are also states, super regional and internationals.

Despite the lofty goal, Glen Rock’s hopes are still in abeyance.

Unfortunately for Glen Rock Robotics, the team has been wait-listed. There are multiple qualifier tournaments that occur every year but only so many in New Jersey, and there are few close to Glen Rock.

The Glen Rock Robotics team signed up for as many tournaments as it could, “but a lot of people signed up before us even though we signed up within the first week or so,” said Ann Butler (’18), a co-captain for Glen Rock’s team.

Butler is one of three captains for the Glen Rock Robotics. Butler started robotics on the middle school team during the second half of eighth grade because she “was interested in engineering” and “thought it was pretty cool,” according to Butler.

The other two captains are Aaron Mueninghoff and another junior*. Both Muenighoff and the other student created the high school robotics team with the help of Muenighoff’s mother who was a big part of the process, according to Muenighoff. Ever since first grade, Mueninghoff has been building robots and competing since second grade.

The team is advised by physics teacher Ms. Elana Resnick.  Resnick’s responsibilities include deciding when and where the team will have meetings, submitting purchase orders to the board to get parts for the robots and sign the team for competition. Resnick describes her main role as a “guide who orchestrates all the stuff behind the scenes.”

With its 25 members, Glen Rock Robotics hopes to get off the wait list and compete at Liberty Science Center.

*Name withheld