SCHS robotics team of sophomores takes home second place and an award at FTC competiton

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Robotics is one of the many technological aspects not unheard of in Silicon Valley, especially at SCHS. There are currently over six robotics teams from SCHS competing in the FIRST Tech Challenge, a worldwide robotics competition. On Saturday, Dec. 8, one STEM sophomore team, Xcavators, placed second in their tournament and won the Inspire award.

FTC is a robotics competition that rolls out a new challenge every year for competing participants. Through multiple rounds, two teams allianced together work to earn the most points based on the abilities of their robot. Besides winning the tournament, teams can also earn various awards through their merit and dedication.

Ten members, two boys and eight girls, make up team Xcavators. They came into their second tournament not expecting much success but hoped for the best, according to team member Jennifer Liu.

“The night before, we nearly pulled an all nighter,” Liu said. “Some other members actually did [stay up all night], working on the robot.”

When the team finished the competition, placing second and earning the Inspire award, they realized their hard work had paid off.

“A lot of people didn’t have faith in us,” Liu said. “So when we placed second and won the Inspire award, I was really happy.”

Robotics and engineering is not the only part of FTC. Teams are also required to provide an in-depth journal describing the robot development and outreach opportunities. According to team member Stiya Sridhar, reaching out to the community was an important part of the competition for the team. After their first competition, they brought their robot to SCHS to share their experience with robots.

“We set up multiple outreach sessions throughout the season,” said Sridhar. “For example, we shared our robot with a few SCHS clubs, and we mentored another team in Central Park.”

Beyond the local tournaments, FTC can advance to a regional and national level. Placing first in  local tournaments and earning the Inspire award are the two ways a team can move on to Regionals. The Inspire award is one given to the team that embodies courtesy to other teams and expresses enthusiasm as well as great technical knowledge, according to Sridhar.

Xcavators credits their success in collaboration to their mentor, Alan Tan. Although he was not able to attend their recent tournament, he worked with them prior to it and is glad to see them go towards regionals.

“[I am] nervous but excited,” Tan said. “It’s a big deal and the stage is bigger.”

Xcavators used Tan’s guidance to improve their collaboration and efficiency. He worked alongside the team during group sessions to offer any advice he could.

“For me, it’s not important that they win or lose,” Tan said. “It’s more important they learn how to work together.”

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