After months of online collaboration, the Marlborough robotics teams returned to campus in February to participate in remote tournaments in preparation for regionals.
According to Marlbots member Nina ’22, the return to campus was very exciting.
“It feels amazing to be with the team in person,” Nina said. “I really missed the time we usually get to spend together.”
STEM Program Head Andrew Witman believes that the return offered an opportunity for students to connect and participate in team bonding after so many weeks apart.
“I definitely noticed a visible improvement in student engagement,” Witman said. “I think the students were also very happy to be back on campus, and there were moments we were able to capture the pre-Covid experience.”
In March, following weeks of collaboration in small groups on campus, the teams competed in their first remote practice scrimmage. In a normal year, four teams compete at once on a field, however, for remote scrimmages, the teams had a one-week window of time to play, score and submit their matches. This year, the challenge was to design a robot that can launch rings into a goal or target area.
“The practice scrimmages were very low pressure and were mostly focused on scoring as many points as we could in a given time,” Nina said. “They were really good for getting practice in for the remainder of the season.”
Most recently, the four teams competed in a local qualifying tournament, an elimination round for entry into regionals. All the teams had one week to submit their scores and had to gather on Zoom on the final day of the tournament to present their work to judges in a series of virtual interviews. The judges also evaluated each team’s “Engineering Portfolio,” which articulated each team’s design process. Curiosity member Ezra ’22 believes that the pandemic added a new challenge for the teams.
“Building a robot during the pandemic has been a special challenge because by nature [robotics] is such a collaborative and hands-on process,” Ezra said. “I think we adapted really well to the challenge of the pandemic and managed to create something wonderful of which we are all really proud.”
Both the Marlbots and Curiosity qualified for the regional championships this year and will compete on April 24 with the top 36 teams in the Southern California region for the final official tournament of the year.
“I’m very excited for regional championships,” Nina said. “Our robot has a lot of work to be done, but I’m excited to continue working.”