Highland News Leader

First season holds success for Highland Robotics Club

Members of the Highland Robotics Club from left to right, Ethan Smith, Gabe Schwarz, Patrick McGinley, Rob Bowman of Terra Properties, Michael Barry and Issac Irving; team members not pictured are Grant Rednour, Drew Schonhardt.
Members of the Highland Robotics Club from left to right, Ethan Smith, Gabe Schwarz, Patrick McGinley, Rob Bowman of Terra Properties, Michael Barry and Issac Irving; team members not pictured are Grant Rednour, Drew Schonhardt. Provided photo

The Highland Robotics Club aced their first season; the team placed third out of 16 teams at the First Regional Lego League competition in the robotics section.

The club, which is made up of middle school students from the Highland area, participated in a course where their robot had to overcome obstacles. Overall, the students received third place. While the ranking was not enough to let them advance into the next rounds, Highland City Councilman Aaron Schwarz said it was great encouragement for the coming years.

Schwarz, who spearheaded the effort for the club, said that the effort was inspired by his son, Gabe. He had asked Gabe what clubs he would like to be involved in, and besides the usual answer, sports, he said he wanted to become involved with a robotics club.

After speaking with some of his co-workers, Schwarz learned about the First Lego League and decided to pursue creating a club.

“It’s real-life engineering,” Schwarz said. “It goes way beyond and above what they are going to do in school.”

Schwarz also mentioned that the club provided an outlet for kids to actually pursue their interests.

There is also hope for next season. According to Schwarz, they are hoping to have another year, but instead of participating with the First Lego League, the club might pursue Botball, an educational robotics program for middle and high school students focused on promoting science, engineering, technology, math, and writing skills through hands-on projects.

Schwarz called the Botball program more hardcore on engineering and advanced coding that will bring the club to the next level.

However, the main hurdle the group faces is finding the funding and support for another year.

“It is hard to start something from nothing,” Schwarz said.

For this year’s club, Schwarz said that they raised a little over $2,000 and the team would like to thank their sponsors for their support.

The club was sponsored by Terra Properties, McGinley Inc., Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard, the Highland Optimist Club, city of Highland, Highland Rotary Club, and Walmart.

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