The Comets of Forest Hills covers numerous fields and is beneficial for the future

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The Robotics Team of Forest Hills, The Comets, is not a very well known cult of individuals. Though they are not very recognized within the school, those involved could not be happier that they joined. Originally, junior Destiny Wu wasn’t very motivated or interested in robotics when she joined her freshman year.

“It’s actually a really funny story,” Destiny said. “I really didn’t want to take Honors Biology my freshman year. I told my mom I would do robotics as an extracurricular if she would let me not take the class, and I ended up liking [robotics] quite a bit”

Because robotics is not really talked about that much within the school and is not very publicized, many students don’t even really know how it works.

“A lot of people have the impression that robotics competitions is just putting a bot in front of a panel of judges and letting them see how it works,” Destiny said. “However, the main part of the competition is a game that changes every year and has new goals, like shooting balls into a goal or climbing a rope.”

For this year’s game, there are whiffle balls that are shot into a goal. There are also big plastic gears that are collected and put onto a hook that takes it up to the “airship.” The gears can be placed to get the rotors spinning on the airship. At the end of the match, robots can climb up a rope to get extra points. These matches last about two and a half minutes, and for the first fifteen seconds, the robot can only be controlled by pre-programmed code. The rest is operated by two drivers with a remote control.

“We are not supposed to touch the robot after the six weeks of build season and it goes in a big bag,” Destiny said. “What we can do is build a second identical robot for us to keep messing with, and once we have an idea of what changes we want to make to the competition robot, we take advantage of a two-hour window we get during the competition to make changes.”

At district competitions, there are about forty teams. The first part of the competition is the qualification matches. Teams are randomly put into groups of three called “alliances” and goes up against another alliance. Each team goes twelve times, having a different alliance each time. Throughout qualification matches, teams are ranked. Once the qualification matches are over, the top eight seeded teams become alliance captains and get to draft two teams to join their alliance for the elimination matches. The eight alliances then compete tournament style.

“By winning and/or accomplishing certain goals you get ranking points,” junior Kellie Zhou said, “and the teams with the most ranking points at the end of qualifications move on to eliminations.”

Anyone on a team has experience with team bonding and getting to know you teammates outside of a regular environment, and robotics is no different. The team is, for the most part, all really good and close friends because of the hours they spend together.

“The people on the team are the best part for me,” Kellie said. “You see each other at their best, and their worst. Competitions are also sometimes far away, and the road trips and overnight stays are a really fun bonding experience. The team has people from all three schools too, so you get to meet new people. Some of the people from the team are my closest friends now.”

Other than the friends you make and the people you meet, robotics has other benefits as well.
“Robotics teaches you things,” Destiny said. “The structure of the team and learning on the team is really different from learning in the classroom. You don’t get worksheets and homework and instruction. You are set on a path and have to figure out the problem.”

The problems they are given that they have to figure out for competitions are very challenging. The robotics team works hard together to solve the problem and execute it into their robot. These skills they are practicing now will help them when they are older and out in the real world.

Sabrina further explains that she will be attending Michigan State University to study engineering.

Even if you don’t want to go into engineering, robotics is still very beneficial and a great extracurricular. Robotics not only includes building and math, but also marketing and video making for competitions, which is what Sabrina is mainly involved in this year. Students who are interested in joining robotics for the next year, there will be an informational open house in June, or they can contact the team by going to The Comets Robotics website (www. foresthillsrobotics.com).

“This robotics program is great because it really gives you a glimpse into what engineering is like in the real world,” Sabrina said.

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