Robotics teams fare well at competition



Glenwood Junior High and Boardman High schools were both successful at the North East Ohio Robotics Education competition this week at Youngstown State University.

The junior-high team took first and second place in the competition, and the high-school team took fourth overall. Though many schools have robotics programs, few have the history and record of consistent performance of the Glenwood robotics team.

Originally based out of Boardman Center Middle School, the robotics team – which formed out of a robotics club – was started 24 years ago and has taken the first-place trophy at the annual robotics competition 22 of those years.

Participation in the junior-high school team is selective; the team recruits students based on the specific skills needed to excel at the competition.

Some students are chosen for their programming skills, others for their writing competence or general technical aptitude and others because they’re strong public speakers.

Paula Ritter, a teacher at the junior high school and one of the advisers for the robotics team, praised her students for their dedication to the club and their accomplishments outside of the competition.

“The students we get for our teams are brilliant. They make the club a priority, but they’re also first chair in band or orchestra or they’re members of the math league or solo and ensemble. They’re really brilliant students, and we’re excited to see what the future holds for them,” Ritter said.

Once students reach high school, they have the opportunity to continue working and competing with robots by joining the Robotics Club.

The high school’s current club has 14 members.

Aadam Zocolo, 18, is one of the lead programmers for this year’s high-school team and made the team thanks to his self-taught programming skills.

“I started in programming when I was 13,” Zocolo said. “I wanted to do robotics in middle school but I didn’t have the skills yet. Last year I figured I had the skills to make it, so I tried out and was given a spot on the team.”

Zocolo and his co-programmer, Alek Yoder, 18, spent the day before the tournament testing their code to find any last-minute issues.

Pranav Padmanabhan,18, was a member of the Center middle-school robotics team and, according to BHS technology teacher Evelyn Stanton, “instrumental” in the creation of the 3-year-old high-school robotics club.

“I enjoy creating things and getting to use them to accomplish goals,” Padmanabhan said. “I like working with tech.”

Padmanabhan oversees the club’s technical journal – essentially all of the logs and documentation detailing the work the teams have done in the creation of their robots – which plays a major role in securing a high score for his team.

Though the high-school team didn’t fare as well as their junior-high counterparts, the team members still took home several second- and third-place trophies as well as a deeper understanding of the disciplines they hope to pursue once they’ve moved on to begin their college careers.

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