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The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

Robotics is more than just robots

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Atharv Neema
The robotics team spends time together raising money and spreading FIRST messages through a Chick-Fil-A spirit night.

The For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) robotics program has been a key component of PVHS’s engineering department for the past decade. Since the program started at PV, numerous teams advanced to the state championships. Coached by Jason Franzenburg and Grant Housman, the current teams hold over 30 students.

Most people associate robotics with welding, using heavy machinery and programming, but robotics is more than building and programming robots. In addition to building and programming, the FIRST program also promotes and rewards teams that build and impact their local communities through the field of STEM. 

FIRST’s push for community outreach can be seen by examining the First Tech Challenge (FTC) award system. A handful of the FTC awards are dedicated to outreach like the Connect and Motivate awards; these awards are given to teams that connect with their local science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) community and embraces the culture of FIRST and clearly shows what it means to be a team.  To receive the Inspire award (first place), a team must display both a successful robot and exceptional outreach in the community. 

Teams can do community outreach in many ways: hosting or organizing booths at community events and spreading the word about FIRST robotics. Any activity informing people about STEM and FIRST programs qualifies as outreach. 

PVHS robotics team Everything That’s Radical member Ryan Barnes said, “I have seen outreach impact our community firsthand. When I started on this team, we had seven members, but through outreach and advertising around school, we have grown to 30 members. By recruiting over 20 members through outreach, the school team has increased from one team to three in a year.” Barnes has been on the outreach team for the past year and has personally organized many different community gatherings inside and outside of school, spreading the word of FIRST and STEM. 

Possessing a helping attitude and being a good community member does not end at outreach; FIRST promotes/encourages the message of Gracious Professionalism to every team. +Gracious Professionalism is the attitude or mindset that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others and respects individuals and the community. It can also affect teams and their placement in competitions. If a team lacks Gracious Professionalism, they can be disqualified from FIRST events. 

FIRST collaborated with Netflix to make a documentary called “More Than Robots” to bring recognition to the different aspects of robotics. This documentary guides the viewers through a typical FIRST season, showing them the problems teams encounter and the various elements of the competitionother than just the robot. 

Outreach serves a more significant purpose than just being a determinant in the competition. The importance of engineers is more prevalent in today’s world than ever. Many FIRST alumni have gone to college to pursue a degree in engineering. The program thrives on outreach events to gain more traction and interest more kids in STEM to grow itself and its message. 

Many engineering and robotics programs are offered to PV students. Robotics participants have had a foothold in FIRST programs as early as first grade. First Lego League (FLL) is offered in every Pleasant Valley elementary and is a great way to get many kids interested in STEM. FLL is for students in the grades of Pre-K-8th. After FLL, many kids transition to First Tech Challenge (FTC), which is offered at Pleasant Valley for students in grades 7-12. 

The impact community outreach has had on countless students shows us the values of FIRST and its mission to gain as many people interested in STEM as possible.

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About the Contributor
Atharv Neema
Atharv Neema, Business Manager
Atharv Neema is a senior at Pleasant Valley and serves as the business manager for the Spartan Shield. In school, Atharv is the Vice President of Future Business leaders of America, Co-founder of the Competitive Chess Club, and engages in other activities such as First Tech Challenge, and Spartan Assembly. After High school, he plans to go into finance/business through an undecided 4-year university. Outside of school, Atharv can be seen volunteering at robotics summer camps, trading securities, working out at the gym, playing chess, listening to Bollywood music, and traveling with his family. Atharv is excited to be a part of the Spartan Shield this semester!
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Robotics is more than just robots