I hope by now everyone has seen the great coverage of FIRST Robotics in Wednesday’s Lapeer County Press. This has already been an amazing year for the District’s Robotics Program, and we are excited for what’s to come.
Most recently, our brand new Strike Zone crew (Team 5460) won several awards for excellence for a first-year team and earned the right to compete in the World Robotics Competition in St. Louis, MO this month. The team, coached by Tony Diodato (we call him Mr. Roboto), is getting prepped as I write this for what should be an amazing experience for a very young group. Tony last took the Chimeras, Team 1684, to Worlds back in 2013 and he’s done it again, albeit with a bunch of greenhorns.
Speaking of the Chimeras, one member of that team will also travel to St. Louis. Alyssa Garcia, a junior at LHS, earned the highest individual honor for FRC. She is a “Dean’s List” finalist, an award named after the founder of FRC Dean Kamen.
As many of you know, our robotics teams are now housed in the District’s new Center for Innovation. Each team has a dedicated area for all their projects, ample space for testing and simulation. The Chimeras and Strike Zone work together in a repurposed high school metal shop. Our middle school teams, Mechanical Mayhem and Twisted Metal, have transformed old classrooms into fields for practice and, as you may have heard, they’ve done well — really, really well.
Back in January, an alliance comprised of both our middle school teams won the State FTC Championship in Battle Creek and went on to compete in the Super-Regional in Des Moines, Iowa. Mechanical Mayhem, because of their second place finish in that competition, punched its ticket to the World Robotics Competition as well.
Given all this success, I am reminded of how great things can happen when we harness the power of synergy. These students, ranging in age from 11 to 18, all work together in a shared space that was created, in large part, to cultivate opportunities to be better together than we ever could apart — to find ways to expand our understanding of how students learn. That is what the Center for Innovation is all about.
These groups of young people embody what we are trying to be as a district probably more than anyone else, young or old. These students are supported by an amazing group of community mentors who share their passion for science and engineering with anyone who take a moment to see what they are all about. I encourage everyone to take a few minutes to speak to any of the students or mentors involved. I promise you will be impressed.
Here’s one self-evident truth I’ve learned throughout my career in education: Great outcomes are not possible without great people. We are so fortunate to have folks like Tony, like the Malson Family, Elizabeth Lowe, Austin Mullaney, Jon Uren and so many more who pour themselves into the lives of our students. Their enthusiasm is contagious and their record of success only reinforces the District’s renewed focus on STEM and project-based learning.
We wish the best of luck to all our teams and especially those students who will represent Lapeer at the World Championships.