High school robotics clubs have become increasingly popular in recent years and for a good reason. They teach students about robotics and engineering, teamwork, problem-solving and perseverance.
The Sparta High School club has consistently placed in the top 2 percent of clubs worldwide in the past few years, and members are gearing up for the state championship Saturday, March 4 in Holmdel. It will be held at the Bellworks, a Silicon Valley-type technology hub for New Jersey.
The two teams heading to the state championship are 5249 Z “Artemis” and 5249 S “Zepherus.”
Since the world championship last year, club members have worked diligently to prepare for this competition.
“Every year, they come up with a new game, and the game drives design,” said head coach Mark Meola.
Students have spent countless hours designing, building and programming a robot that can perform a specific task. This year’s challenge, called “Spin Up,” requires robots to complete complex tasks, such as picking up objects and hurling them at a designated target while avoiding obstacles and following a set of rules.
The students take part in dozens of competitions across the state for the chance to qualify for the state championship.
Meola is a key factor in the team’s success. He has taught Applied Technology, Robotics and Engineering at Sparta High School for 23 years.
Throughout the years, the Robotics Club has won multiple competitions, including four world championships and a ranking in the top 2 percent of clubs at 23,000 schools in 40 countries.
While students are excited about the opportunity to compete against the top 48 teams in the state, they know the competition will be fierce.
Asked why she wants to win at state, sophomore Shannon Lloyd said, “Not only does it look good on college applications, but it also rounds off our experience. We have put so much time and effort into building these bots. We want to see them succeed and perform well.”
Shannon is the lead technical writer for team Artemis.
If the teams win Saturday, they will qualify for the opportunity to compete in the largest robotics competition in the world, known as the VEX Robotics World Championship, at the end of April.
We have put so much time and effort into building these bots. We want to see them succeed and perform well.” - Sparta High School sophomore Shannon Lloyd, lead technical writer for Artemis robotics team