WOODLAND — Woodland High School’s robotics team, the Beaver Bots, attracts a diverse range of students from every grade level to compete against other schools’ robots in events involving challenging tasks and logic-based problems inspired by real-world scenarios.
The Beaver Bots are one of 140 high school teams from across Washington taking part in the FIRST competitions, which stands for For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology.
Teachers Jennifer Benedict and Stephanie Marshall serve as the team’s advisers.
“We make sure the team is nearly entirely student-led,” said Marshall. “We serve as the advisers, but we want the students to learn and grow by handling every aspect of the team.”
This year, the robotics team gained 12 new members, nearly doubling its size.
“We are so excited to have so many new members,” said Marshall. “We had to implement a leadership hierarchy with a board of five students making the most of the decisions so we could ensure everything gets done and nothing is missed.”
Many members joined after their friends recruited them.
“I joined last year after a few of my friends already on the team convinced me to come out,” junior Alyssa VanCleef said. “My role is to take over as a lead next year, so I’m doing a bit of everything. I really enjoy the interaction because we have such a close-knit team.”
New members join for a variety of reasons. “I love building and engineering; it fascinates me so much,” explained Morrigan Chapman, a sophomore who joined this year. “I have always built projects at home — it’s what I absolutely love — and I’ll likely go into engineering or mathematics after I graduate.”
Freshman Grayson Tinker said his experience in a robotics class in fifth grade motivated him to sign up this year. “I really like watching how all the pieces go together — not just the robot itself, but also the entire team,” he said. “I’m a junior programmer this year, so I’m focusing on learning the language we use and practicing with our senior programmers.”