By Mary O’KEEFE
The Crescenta Valley High School Falkon 589 robotics team could be found at the high school despite it being winter break. Team members were on campus cleaning their classroom and robot shop in preparation for a new season of competition.
“We are getting ready for the new season, which starts on Saturday (Jan. 9) at 9 a.m.,” said Lucas Repath Martos, Falkon member for three years. “The only thing we know [about the challenge] is its called ‘Stronghold.’”
Each year 589 joins thousands of other high school robotics teams throughout the world, including those from Clark Magnet and La Cañada high schools, to learn what innovative game has been dreamed up by those at FIRST (For Innovation and Recognition of Science and Technology).
In the past games have included robot versions of tic-tac-toe, basketball and soccer. In addition to learning what game will be played, the teams are given the dimensions and requirements for the playing field, which changes every year, to construct their robot. And then it’s time to go to work.
“We have six weeks to design and build the robot,” said Tony Kim, 589 member for three years.
The CVHS Falkon team members are a cross section of students from the school representing every interest from baseball to math.
“I like being here,” said Dorian Nelson, who had attended Los Angeles Unified School District in the past.
Nelson’s friends from his English class talked to him about 589.
“[I said], ‘Okay, I want to join,’” he said.
Dr. Greg Neat is the CVHS mentor. The lead mentor is Lyn Repath-Martos.
Throughout the year 589 team members shares their love of all that is robotics by mentoring young engineers and scientists through the FIRST Lego League. This year alone 589 mentored 19 Lego robotics teams, 13 FIRST Jr. Lego League teams, three afterschool robotics programs, six Girl Scout FLL (FIRST Lego League) teams, seven elementary and middle school teams.
“There are 172 kids touched by our mentoring,” Repath-Martos said.
And these team members are all high school students who mentor in addition to being part of sports teams, other clubs and keeping up with their schoolwork.
According to FIRST, in 2016 the robotics competition will encompass over 3,000 teams comprised of more than 78,000 students from around the world.
“Dubbed a varsity Sport for the Mind™, FIRST Robotics Competition combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. It’s the only school sport where all members may turn pro if they choose. Teams of 10 or more high school students (ages 14-18/grades 9-12) are challenged to build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors, raise funds, and design a team ‘brand,’ hone teamwork skills. It’s as close to real-world business and engineering as a student can get,” according to www.firstinspires.org.
Team 589 raise funds throughout the year to help pay for the registration fees for competitions and for building and operating the robot. To donate contact Lyn Repath-Martos at Lyn.M.Repath-Martos@jpl.nasa.gov.