Posted Date: 06/23/2022
Middlebrook eighth grader Varun (pictured second to the right of the banner) is part of a robotics team that is heading to Detroit in April to participate in the National Championships of the First Tech Challenge. His team “The League of Extraordinary Roboticists” has students 8th to 12th grade from schools in the greater Danbury area. Varun is one of only three middle schoolers on the team of ten.
The team has been meeting since September to envision their robot and how it will operate. This year’s competition called ‘Rover Ruckus’, is inspired by the Lunar Rover and the Mars Rover space programs. Each team had to build a robot that would ‘land’ on a far off planet, detach from a larger space vehicle, collect specimens and place them in a collecting vessel.
The team participated at the state competition, held in Greenwich on February 24th. Varun’s team did exceptionally well and won their division. They also won the inspire award, the award that was given once across all divisions to the team that demonstrates the values of the competition - teamwork, enthusiasm, knowledge and professionalism.
The team was guided by adult coaches and mentors, students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles, while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and working as a team.
Varun discovered robotics when he received an ev3 kit for his 9th birthday and he has never looked back. After participating in the First Lego League in previous years, he wanted to take it up a notch and join a First Technical Challenge Team. His first challenge was to find a team. The Wilton Library Team did not have a spot for him, but he did not give up. He looked further afield and found a team in Danbury with space for him to join.
‘The design process was the hardest part’ said Varun ‘It took the longest time we used CAD software to figure it out’ After design it took a further 20 hours to build the robot ‘The next problem we faced was how to detach from the landing vehicle, we discovered there were flaws in our idea and we had to go back to the design process’. Varun and his team mates also had to figure out the programming language Java in order to control the movement of the robot. No small task as, by Varun’s own admission ‘Java is a big program to learn’
As well as all the technical aspects, there is also a business side to the program as the students have to learn to present their ideas to companies to solicit sponsorship dollars to support the team and their upcoming trip to Detroit.
Varun and the team will be exhibiting at the New England Space Expo on April 7th. Details of that event can be found here.
Published on Mar 20 2019 10:10 AM