In late January, Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School students, Zale Narkiewicz, Cassius Paquet, Franklin Pelcher, and Lucy Thompson and science teacher Jane Paquet attended workshops where they received their instructions and the parts they would need to compete in the 2012 Massachusetts Botball Competition at the UMass Lowell Costello gym.
That gave them six weeks to build and program their robots to compete.
Unlike the other competing schools, the Charter School fielded two teams. The boys’ team included Zale, Franklin, Cassius, and Jared Rivard. The girls’ team included Violet Kennedy, Bella Maidoff, Lucy Thompson, and Alistair Rizza.
More than just learning programming fundamentals, these students developed their own way to function as a team by creating team strategies for decision making and setting up mechanisms for conflict resolution. For the team to function successfully they needed to manage time and materials as they learned to delegate responsibility.
Many factors came into play during the scoring. The teams arrived knowing that their rolling robots must perform specific tasks on a prescribed game board about the size of a ping-pong table. In addition to scoring points for their programmed maneuvers, teams were expected to present documentation demonstrating their work prior to game day and their understanding and knowledge of the processes involved.
The boys’ team came in 5th overall. The girls’ received the “Spirit Award” for exemplifying the spirit of Botball. The two teams formed an “alliance match” and came in 1st place in that category with the highest score.
“The documentation scores our students received this year were the highest we’ve ever gotten,” science teacher Jane Paquet said. “I am incredibly proud of the ways in which they worked together and with each other.”
Paul Karasik is Charter School development director.