New Wareham Middle School robotics team scraps competition

Feb 13, 2014

With just one month of working together, facing off against teams with months of teamwork, the Wareham Middle School robotics club placed second in its first competition on Feb. 8.

“I didn’t think we were going to do that well because our robot wasn't as big or as sophisticated, but it turned out to be pretty good,” student Josh Wright said.

At Quinsigamond Community College’s VEX Robotics Toss Up competition in Worcester, Wareham competed against 28 teams and had a record of 7-0-0 after seven rounds. The team then won its quarter-final match, 2-0, and its semi-final match, 2-1. Wareham lost 1-2 in the final round.

"I was so proud of how hard the students worked to prepare for the competition. Then, I was amazed to see them in action. They were incredible," teacher Julie Walker said. "The students received many compliments throughout the day and did a fantastic job representing Wareham Middle School."

Wareham's team is made up of seventh grade students Vyper Latulippe, Ethan Osley, Jonathan McCarthy,  Wright, Taylah Messia and Shaez Gomes, and led by Walker.

“The club seemed very interesting. I love to build robots, and I love building stuff,” student Josh Wright said.

“I heard about the school offering a club where we could build robots, and I that some of my friends were doing it like Jonathan and Josh,” Latulippe said.

It appeared all students in the club enjoyed the hands-on opportunity the robotics club offers.

“It’s really cool to design stuff and see it work in the field,” McCarthy said.

For Messia, the club has reinforces the passion she has for science.

“I love engineering,” Messia said.

Messia said she wants to go to college for bio engineering.

“I have thought about this a lot,” Messia said.

Messia does not have an ideal college she would want to attend. As a seventh grader, she has some time left, though.

Not every student on the team is a fan of the science and math commonly associated with a robotics club.

“I hate math,” Gomes said.

“They needed drawings before the competition, and I said I would do them,” Gomes said. “I love this club because our robot is awesome.”

Every member of the team has their own reason for enjoying the club.

“I like redesigning the robot when it fails,” Messia said.

However, Messia did not feel like the robot failed in its first competition. For the next competition, wants to further program the robot so it can have more abilities.

To improve in the next performance, the team uses a method associated with football: watching tape.

“We watch video of people who came in first place, see what they did well, what we didn’t do and figure out how to make the robot better,” Latulippe said.

“There was a part in the game where the robot had to lift up the ball and put it inside a tube,” Latulippe said. “We didn’t have a claw that could lift the ball up high enough, so I think our new design will work better to do that.”

The robotics club is part of Vex Robotics. VEX produces design kits that introduce students to robotics and help them hone their science and technology skills.

These kits typically cost about $1,000, according to Walker. One kit allows for a team of six students. Walker hopes to grow the team in the future.

“So many fields are using robotics now,” Walker said. “My father just had a surgery done that was 100 percent done by a robot. The students don’t realize how much this is going to help them. There’s so many applications.”

Wareham Middle School's VEX program was made possible due to grant funding from the Wareham Public Schools Office of Beyond School Time and the donation of VEX Robotics equipment from Quinsigamond Community College.

At the competition, the team received the tournament finalist award, which qualifies the students for the New England Regional Toss Up Competition held again at the community college on March 1 and 2.