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No robotics team? No problem

Students hope to hook youngsters on STEM activities

Multiple Districts — Sparta High sophomore Orson Alvarado and freshman Noah Goodfellow are quick to tell you why they like being on a robotics team.

“I really like the robotics aspect and I like learning to code,” said Orson, who hopes to attend a technical college after high school. “Without being here, I wouldn’t know how to put together a wheel box or build a meter.”

After two years in freshman tech class, Noah is happy to have moved up to the high school team. “I really have enjoyed it, but am here looking for bigger bots, and also we can block them now.”

Orson and Noah are members of That ONE Team in Belmont, which was established to encourage science learning as well as field a FIRST Robotics team for local students whose own schools don’t have a  participating team.

Students from area private schools and home-schoolers are also part of the group. 

Reaching Out

Orson and Noah joined team members at a recent community event designed to interest younger children.

A storefront on Plainfield Avenue featured a robot that resembled a garbage barrel on wheels. It zipped around the room as participants tried to land a ball in its moving target. 

Nearby, other team members gathered around a screen to watch robotics teams in competition, while others occupied stations such as one with LEGO pieces, awaiting youngsters to try their hand at building something new. 

Tubs filled with water tested homemade boats of different styles as their inventors added more and more coins. The object was to find out which designs would be able to carry the most weight.

A table at which participants could design towers made of sticks and mini-marshmallows was manned by Northview High School 10th-grader Caleb Burnaby, who started with the group while he was in fourth grade.

He said he’s given presentations to area businesses that are considering team sponsorship.

“I really love doing this,” Caleb said. “I enjoy the challenge and the skills that I have gained from it and the opportunities it has given me to connect with various sponsors.”

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Janice Holst
Janice Holst was a reporter for SNN covering Kent City and Sparta. She has been both a teacher and a journalist. A former MLive reporter, she wrote features and covered local government and schools for Advance Newspapers for nearly two decades. She also was a recipe columnist and wrote features for Mature Life Style and occasional entertainment pieces for On The Town magazines. She lives in Sparta Township and enjoys spending some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts.

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