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roboticsMilton’s Robotics Team is on a roll. In a basement room of the Art and Media Center, the team of 15 Class III students is surrounded by screws, wheels and wires as they build and program two robots, using the VEX Robotics Design System. In their first year as an official student club, the team’s efforts at the VEX competition qualified them to move to regional competition next month.

The team’s co-heads and founders are Juliana Rogoff, Mark Massa and Ravi Rahman. Ravi was a member of the Middle School Robotics Team; with Mark and Juliana, they formed an informal robotics group during their freshman year. This is their first year competing.

“The competitions are so much fun,” says Juliana. “It is a different atmosphere than, say, a speech competition, because there is a lot of helping and sharing information among the teams.”

This collaboration may be due to the way competitions are organized. Teams are paired randomly to form “alliance teams,” which work together to obtain the most points against an opposing alliance team. As the competition progresses, alliances change, so each team works with many other teams during a competition.

In this year’s VEX “Toss Up!” competition, students program robots to move and place balls of different sizes in different places around the course. Ravi says they must program the robot to move autonomously for the first 15 seconds and then complete the rest of the course controlling the robot remotely.

“I am so pleased with the students’ work,” says science faculty member Carol Artacho, one of the club’s advisors. “They are extremely enthusiastic and committed. They put so much time and energy into figuring out what they want to do, and how they are going to do it.”