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Middle and Upper School Students Launch Robotics Teams

Both our Middle and Upper School  Robotics teams came together as a result of strong student initiative and leadership, and both teams exceeded expectations in their first season of competition.

Jeff Tillinghast, Robotics Club Advisor

UPrep's Next Generation Learning goals call for students to actively build and shape their learning opportunities, and to use technology to solve complex problems. Both of these goals came together this year in our new Robotics teams, formed as a result of student leadership and interest in STEM fields. Both our Middle and Upper School Robotics teams completed their first tournaments last weekend, and both teams exceeded their expectations. The tournaments were a mad dash of problem-solving, an engineering mindset, and quick thinking as teams had to improve, refine and rebuild their robots and strategies based on each match—intellectual courage in action.

Upper School

Upper School took their robot (“Allen”) to Wenatchee to compete with 30 other teams from around the state on Saturday, February 3. They got an early start, leaving at 5:00 a.m. from UPrep,  and got moving as soon as the tournament opened — they were one of the first teams to get their robot inspected and certified legal for competition. Through 6 qualification matches, the team's seeding fluctuated between 11 and 24, but had several strong matches. As this was their first time seeing real tournament action, the team was surprised at how often all the robots, including top-seeded experienced teams, needed repair during the course of the day. The early highlight was John Higley driving Allen to victory in a 2-vs-2 match singlehandedly… as our teammate robot couldn’t boot up to start the match!

After qualifications, highest-ranked teams draft “alliance partners”— other robots with whom to form an alliance for the rest of the day. With the team finishing qualification ranked #25, it looked like our day might be over… but the #3 seed from Seattle Prep reached down and drafted Allen and the Pumas to join their team. The Prep-Prep alliance made it all the way to the finals, with a surprise qualification to the state championships on the line, before finally running out of gas against a dominant Wenatchee High School alliance. Allen started the day strong, with four consecutive great matches, but by the finals it was all the poor robot could do to limp into the scoring zone as the day’s cumulative wear took its toll.

The team was really excited, and had high spirits all the way back to their 8:00 p.m. arrival back on campus. Great work: David Abramowitz, Nate Bontje, Mark Fishman, John Higley, Thomas Nielsen, Dorothea Orth-Smith, Keenan Van Deusen, and Cynthia Xiao, as well as (not travelling) Doran Cao, Sebastian Grathwol-Sear, Sidney Levine, Anthony Michelman, and Jake Zikan.

Middle School

Next up, the Middle School team met in Redmond for their competition on Sunday, February 4. Among 47 teams, the Pumas kept themselves ranked in the low 20’s to high 30’s for most of the day. Maddie H. distinguished herself as driver in both the open matches and individual driver skills challenges. The team didn’t make the cut for the quarter-finals, unfortunately, but they were proud of the progress they made, and the improvements they were able to make to their robot after each match. Congratulations to all team members: David Baylor, Andrew Bell, Leo Carlin, Maddie Harris, Sofia Pozzo, Sienna Stiefel.  

Both teams returned to campus this week to revitalize and revise their robots to get ready for another competition on February 10. Go Pumabots!

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