WAHOO — Once a robot is up and running, the creator has only completed 25% of the robot, Marv Wiese said.
Wiese, who helped to establish Calvary Robotics Club under Bishop Neumann’s Calvary Activities Youth Organization in 2016, said the robot continues to need debugging and improvements throughout the robotics competition season.
While the club has always been open to students from Wahoo Public Schools, for this 2020-2021 season Calvary Robotics has officially teamed up with Wahoo Public Schools. This partnership has contributed to the recent growth in the club which now has 33 members.
The club has also recently received a $10,000 donation from the Wahoo Public Schools Foundation for start-up funding. WPS representatives Barb Shanahan and Vick Ruzicka received the donation.
“The foundation loves to support things for kids that are outside of school or additional types of resources for learning,” Shanahan said. “I just thought this was a great thing and wanted to support it.”
The club has eight teams; seven of the teams are middle school teams. The one remaining team is a high school team. Each of these teams has a mix of students from WPS and Bishop Neumann or St. Wenceslaus, and they compete throughout the season at different tournaments. They usually meet two to four days a week, about three hours at a time and the teams are led by parent volunteers.
Luke Sylliaasen, a sixth grader at St. Wenceslaus, chalks up the amount of time club members spend on their projects to working and reworking their robots.
“I feel like there’s a lot of mistakes that happen,” Sylliaasen said. “You just figure it out as you go and just have to just spend the time to fix the robot.”
Sylliaasen has been in the club since last year and is looking forward to the middle school team’s next competition in January.
“I like driving the robot, that part’s really fun,” he said. “And just like the spirit of competition.”
VEX Robotics Competition Change Up is the competition the club prepares for in their practices. Usually, there are two robots, one is deemed red and one is blue, competing against each other in a 12 foot by 12 foot square field with nine goals.
The matches consist of a 15 second Autonomous Period where the robot has to act on its own and a one minute and 45 second Driver Controlled Period.
The objective of the game is to score a higher number of 32 balls in nine goals. Teams can score points by connecting a row of goals for six points, scoring the most points during Autonomous Periods for six points and a point per ball in goal. If a team were to complete their home rows during an Autonomous Period, they will also be given a point.
The high school team had a competition recently. Bishop Neumann junior Dizzy DuMont said it was a “learning tournament” so the team could figure out what kinks their robot had. Dumont has been on the team since its inception in 2016.
In the past, the program has been represented in the Nebraska State Robotics Tournament and Heartland Regional Tournament every year since the club was established. The club also had a representative participating in the 2017 U.S. Open robotics tournament. This year, the club had a team qualify for the VEX Robotics Worlds Championship in April 2020, but it had been cancelled due to COVID-19.
When the club started, Wiese said it was to respond to the huge skills gap in the workforce and that other schools and communities already had programs like this. While the club started off small in 2016, it has grown in success which Wiese said is because the students, parent volunteers, teachers and schools themselves.
Wiese said a good word to describe the club members’ dedication would be “passionate.”
Parent volunteer and high school team coach Jason Edmonds describes the team similar to any other sport which is why it requires a lot of dedication.
“I look at it like any other competition,” Edmonds said. “If you’re in football, volleyball, wrestling, any other sport, it’s a lot of time dedication.”
Edmonds has two Wahoo freshmen sons on the team, Josh and Samuel.
For Dizzy DuMont’s mom, Theresa DuMont the amount of dedication shows who they are and how hard they are willing to work.
“What does it say about them? They’re hard workers,” Theresa DuMont said. “They aspire to be successful.”
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