Westtown School Robotics: The Formidable Metal Moose

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The Metal Moose, Westtown School's Robotics Team, scored big-time at the March 24 Lenape FIRST Robotics District Competition. This year’s challenge, Rebound Rumble, called on the team to develop a basketball-playing robot. Entering the elimination rounds as an eighth seed, Westtown’s team dispatched the number one and number two seeds to reach the championship round, qualifying them to compete in Regional and National Championships in late April.

Westtown School Robotics Team: The Metal Moose

The Westtown team displayed problem-solving, collaboration, humility, incredible patience, respect, and esprit de corps – these life lessons are invaluable and can't be learned in a classroom!

The Westtown School Robotics Team, aka the Metal Moose, scored big-time at the March 24 Lenape FIRST Robotics District Competition sponsored by Mid-Atlantic Robotics 2012. This year’s challenge, Rebound Rumble, called on the team to develop a basketball-playing robot, affectionately known as Cobra-Moose for its ability to rear up and shoot baskets. Entering the elimination rounds as an eighth seed, Westtown’s team dispatched the number one and number two seeds to reach the championship round, where they lost in a best-of-three to the third-ranked team.

Westtown, a pre-K - 12 college prep school in West Chester, PA, also received a special judges’ award sponsored by Rockwell Automation, the “Innovation in Control Award.” This award celebrates an innovative control system or application of control components (electrical, mechanical or software) to provide unique machine function. Westtown Coach Steve Compton explained that while there were several other teams with similar machine function control systems, what set Westtown Robotics apart was the students’ ability to clearly and effectively articulate to the judges the nature of the robot's design and function.

The annual FIRST Robotics Competition challenges students to design, build and program a robot that is technically proficient in achieving game objectives for the year. In a span of only six weeks, students come together - working with intensity and creativity - to solve a problem in one of the most demanding assignments of their high school careers. In Rebound Rumble, rival alliances (teams), consisting of three robots each, clash on a 27 x 54 foot field. The goal is to sink as many basketballs as possible during a match of approximately 2 minutes.

Students not only learn the skill sets of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, according to Coach Compton, but also foundational capacities of flexibility, resilience, clear communication and mutual respect and support. Collaboration is key. “This season, I learned that building the Metal Moose is about more than just about a robot. Our team competes to build better individuals as well as robots,” says team member Bo Sung Kim, a Westtown junior from South Korea. Adds senior Mike Cifone, "I learned that no matter how much you design, its always better with other people involved."

Robotics is just one of the ways Westtown students learn the kinds of competencies they need to be successful in rigorous higher education coursework, career challenges and a globally competitive workforce. A parent who saw the Metal Moose in action zeroed in on the value of the robotics program. “What I saw was a group of young people who demonstrated skills worthy of any high-functioning organization. The Westtown team displayed problem-solving, collaboration, humility, incredible patience, respect, and esprit de corps – they bring honor to Westtown. These life lessons are invaluable and can't be learned in a classroom!”

Westtown Robotics now qualifies for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship at Temple University’s Liacouras Center on April 12-14, followed by the National Championship in Saint Louis Missouri on April 25-29. Go Metal Moose!

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