Greenwood Robotics Teams Foster Science, Engineering & Technology Skills
Writer / Michelle Kaufman
More than 30 students at Greenwood Middle and Greenwood Community High School spend the majority of their school year designing, programming, building and driving a robot through an extracurricular program.
The high school robotics team, Green Machine, and the middle school team, Wired Woodmen, were founded in 2014 by several people, including GMS industrial technology teacher and robotics team coach Chris Campbell. The team’s division, FTC, allows participants in 7 through 12th grades, so Campbell expanded to GMS.
Teams design, build and program a robot to perform a set of tasks. The tasks change each year. The teams compete at several competitions throughout Indiana during their season. Campbell says the atmosphere at robotics competitions is different from athletic competitions because teams help each other.
“One year, Center Grove just gave us a motor because one of our motors died,” he says. “Those kinds of things in athletics and sports, you’re out there to beat that other team and fight and battle, but in robotics, it is such a different atmosphere. The atmosphere is just totally different than anything else I’ve ever been around where kids are encouraged and motivated and inspired to help one another.”
Senior Tatiana Andrade has been involved with robotics since her sophomore year. Her freshman year was her first at GHS, so she didn’t join right away but her friends kept encouraging her to join. Andrade is one of four girls on the robotics teams.
“Early on, I didn’t even know what certain tools were or anything like that, but I’ve gained so much knowledge,” she says. “Also just working with my hands, and now I am captain of the team. So it’s super exciting to grow with them but also take charge as one of the only girls on the team.”
Andrade plans to go into chemical engineering and was recently awarded a four-year, full tuition scholarship to the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and has also been accepted to Purdue.
“[The scholarship] definitely wasn’t something I planned for, it was definitely a surprise,” she says. “I had to re-read it a couple times. To be accepted into a top engineering school as an engineering major and, on top of that, to get a full-tuition scholarship is really huge.”
Charlie Jackson is an eighth-grader and has been a member of Wired Woodmen for two years. Jackson enjoys STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) and is looking forward to working more with robotics in the future.
“It’s really reassuring [knowing there’s a high school team] because I really love robotics, and I want to carry on throughout my whole life,” Jackson says. “That’s how much I enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun. My favorite part is problem-solving or fixing something when it breaks. I’m also one of the two drivers.”
Campbell says it’s rewarding for him and the other coaches to see students solve problems.
“I’m always amazed at what they do pick up and what they learn,” Campbell says. “They can get out there and figure out all kinds of stuff on their own. I’m always impressed with what they come up with.”
When the new middle school was built Campbell was able to get workbenches and machines for the team and designed his shop based on what he thought he’d need for his teams.
“That was my inspiration, to have a nice place where kids could come and do some design work in one part and go out and do some hands-on activities where they’re actually building the robot,” he says.
In addition to the middle and high school teams, there are Lego League robotics programs at each of the four Greenwood elementary schools as well.
For more information on the robotics program or if you’d like to volunteer or sponsor the team, visit gwsrobotics.weebly.com.