Francis Parker School’s robotics team W.A.R. (We Are Robots) Lords 2485 return from the 2017 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Regional Robotics Competition in Las Vegas with not one but two awards including the Safety Award and the Chairman’s Award.
The Chairman’s Award is the highest award at FIRST, which celebrates a team that has inspired greater levels of respect and honor for the science and technology industry and has done an exceptional job of encouraging the younger generations to become interested in STEM education. The Safety Award celebrates a team that progresses beyond safety fundamentals to eliminate or protect against hazards.
“I am incredibly proud of our team this weekend,” said Ryan Griggs, director of Parker Robotics. “Earning these two awards speaks volumes of our students and how far our program has come in 10 years.”
Created in 2007, the Parker robotics team started as an after-school club with only 10 students. A decade later, the students have built upon the legacy of commitment to excellence and giving back to the community.
“Our saying is ‘We are champions of legacy,” said Griggs. “Team members have to look at what they want to leave behind to help the community.”
To earn the Chairman’s award, judges looked at how the team demonstrates volunteerism in STEM education. This year, the W.A.R. Lords introduced a new education program called ORION Ed. (named after their robot), which reaches out to kindergarten to Grade 12 students across the San Diego county on STEM education. The program is split into three sections. The elementary section hosts family robotic nights where young students get to play with the W.A.R. Lord’s prized robots. The middle school age section called “STEMinist”, which encourages young girls to get involved in STEM. The high school age program called “The Secret to a Better Robot” shows other robot teams how the power of teamwork is what will elevate them in any competition.
“Going out into the community with the robots is my favorite thing to do with the W.A.R. Lords,” said Anton Baddour, Class of 2018. “It is so inspiring to see kindergarten students gain an interest in robotics at such a young age.”
The Chairman’s Award also took into consideration how the W.A.R. Lords were complimenting diversity in their team. The W.A.R. Lords created a powerful video called, “We are…”, which showed how the W.A.R. Lords are an eclectic group of students with a wide range of interests.
“What makes us stand out is that we are so diverse,” said Jake Brittain, Class of 2019. “We have athletes, we have cheerleaders, we are more than students who love building robots.”
The W.A.R. Lords will move on to the 2017 International FIRST Championships in Houston, which runs April 19 to 22. As a Chairman’s Award recipient, the W.A.R. Lords will have a shot at winning the title of “Hall of Fame” team, which would grant them an invitation to any future FIRST Championship.