Robotics has been a hobby of mine since I was a young child. There's always been something magical about the ability of a robot to be able to accomplish complex tasks.
In middle school, before I moved to Boston, I dove into the world of competitive school robotics. My friends and I challenged ourselves in the high school-dominated world of the First Tech Challenge. We benefited from the support of a massive newly constructed STEM space, a near unlimited budget, and parent support coupled with such high levels of participation that we had to cut people from the team. I was nominated as captain, and with an ingenious robot design (coupled with a healthy dose of luck), we became the first middle school team to make it to the state championship. While we didn't do very well in that competition, we resolved to get better.
I was going to come back and help my team win...
Or that's what I'd like to say. However, unbeknownst to my teammates, it was the last year I was going to compete for my middle school. The day before the state competition, I was actually interviewing at BB&N, since my dad had made the decision to move us to Boston. I resolved that I was going to come to BB&N and join the robotics team here. How different could it be?
Actually, robotics at BB&N is just like any other after-school activity. We meet four or five times a week every week of the fall season. We have team captains and a "coach." We have an end-of-year competition to work for.
However, we also face major challenges when compared to other teams. Because we are a relatively "new" robotics team, we don't have the large budgets of other teams to afford certain items that competing robotics teams consider essential. We don't have a truly dedicated space; each year we are shifted to another room. Unfortunately, because most BB&N students don't even know about our robotics team, we don't have the student participation that other schools do, or the level of parent participation. However, the great positive is that robotics at BB&N is an entirely student-driven operation.
It does not matter to the few of us who participate in robotics. We don't care that most of the school doesn't know that we exist. We don't care that other schools don't think we can beat them just because we don't have a full $1000 playing field to practice on. We still meet during our free periods and during mud week We still take time out of our busy weekends to head to our competitions, because we enjoy what we do. In the end, this is the only thing that matters.