The Hype of Robotics

As the school year has begun, countless extracurricular activities have started too. One opportunity we have in Albion is robotics through INNOVATE Albion. I had the opportunity to sit down with Caroline Hurteau, Executive Director at INNOVATE Albion, to discuss the build-up and work that really goes into FIRST robotics competitions.

Although the official competition materials and preparation does not start until the release dates in late August and early September the learning starts in the summer. Throughout the summer, INNOVATE Albion offers a variety of coding and robotics courses for different ages groups to start the journey of understanding what the competition will look like.

For Hurteau, pre-season is no calmer than during the season. In preseason, she is recruiting coaches for the student teams who normally need to be trained before they are officially coaches, gathering materials for herself and coaches, arranging spaces for practice, coordinating team meeting times. There are lots of logistics that go into robotics teams and competition preparations even before the season begins.

The opportunity for student learning is worth the hard work during all times of the year. Robotics offers STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) opportunities for kindergarten through 12th grade; however, they are not all grouped into one. Teams include three kindergarten through 3rd, two upper elementary (4th – 5th), one middle school, and one high school. The youngest teams have already had their competition, Masterpiece, announced, but this Saturday, the 9th, the middle school competition, Centerstage presented by RTX is announced, and it’s a big deal. All over the nation teams will gather for Launch Day. Launch Day consists of a full explanation of the robotics competition. It explains the field and its elements, the task, game board, and missions. No one knows what the competition looks like until this day. Some places make Launch Day a full day of events with programming and design workshops, and lots of teams begin brainstorming as soon as they hear the competition requirements. The middle school competitions begin in late October with league championships and state competitions in December. High school competitions do not kick off until January. So stay hyped up with INNOVATE Albion as the competition soon begins!

Written by Cassidy Porter