Bearden’s first robotics club already building interest

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Taylor Johnson

Bearden's robotics club meets last week.

Allie Gruszkiewicz, Staff Writer

Robotics club founded for the first time at Bearden

Bearden students have founded the first robotics club in school history, allowing them to engineer a robot that will take part in a competition later in the year.

In past years, Bearden students who wanted to participate in a robotics team had to join Hardin Valley or Farragut’s team. Because they would have had to travel to another school to participate, many students were discouraged from joining.

“I was just thinking that it would be really good for those people if we brought [a robotics club] to Bearden,” senior and co-founder Alex Skwarczynski said.

Skwarczynski and other student co-founders have since worked to gather teacher sponsors, as well as publicity and funds for the club.

Bearden senior and co-founder Bennett Croft said that although Bearden students have less experience than schools who have done robotics clubs before, they do have a major head start as registration doesn’t open until October.

Each year, robotics teams each make one robot to showcase in a competition run by First Robotics, the organization that reigns over all the robotics clubs. Usually, the robots are designed to perform tasks such as throwing a ball or frisbee.

Main activities this semester will include scheduling, learning programming languages, training, and learning to use materials for building the robot. In January, the club will receive directions for the rules and requirements that their robot must meet for a competition in March.

Bearden’s first competition is likely to be the Smoky Mountain Regional, which will take place in the Knoxville Convention Center. However, depending on funding they could also go to a competition in the Palmetto Regional in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

To register, the robotics club will need to raise $6,000. Croft said that this money can be earned by grants from various organizations and companies such as NASA, US Cellular, First Robotics, and Oak Ridge Association of Teachers. If they do not meet their $6,000 goal, they will participate in fundraisers.

One benefit students find in participating in the robotics club is that they can gain engineering skills before college.

“The ultimate goal would be to give kids experience with technology before they leave high school,” club sponsor and physics teacher Mr. William Schult said. “They get hands on experience with programing and building, and of course the application of what they do.”

Added Skwarczynski: “Other than [going to nationals] our goal is to start this, do as well as we can, have a good time with it, and leave something behind to Bearden that it didn’t have previously.”

Student interest has been one of the club’s early successes as it has begun meeting. Mr. Schult said that although he worried about student interest in the club’s first year, he was impressed to find that 37 students showed up at the first meeting.

Meetings are at 3:30 on Fridays in Room 423.