Alexis Tavizon, a junior at Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy, said that an interest in technology led him to PMSA’s robotics team, the Monty Pythons.
As this year’s captain, he is looking ahead to the upcoming FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Midwest Regional Competition on April 3 to 5 at the UIC Pavilion. At the same time, however, he is hopeful that students will learn from the experience of building a robot from the ground up.
"We want students to learn through hands-on experience," Alexis said.
With partners including Triton College, the 25-student team is tasked with building a robot that can compete on a team with two other schools’ robots, pass a large ball among themselves, and throw the ball through a truss that is five feet off the ground. Though they have some assistance from parents, other volunteers, and PMSA science teachers, Mr. John Wardisiani and Ms. Kim Demitro, the students are responsible for the design, construction, and programming of the robot in six weeks. Dividing themselves into departments that focus on those different tasks and using math, engineering and design skills, the students work together to build a machine that will perform the pre-assigned series of tasks. These tasks include building on what previous years’ teams have done.
"We try to get the basic design that meets the basic requirements to score," said Alexis, who is on his third year on the robotics team. "We learned from our past. We want to make the robot sturdy and make it last through the competition. Each student has a role. That’s what makes our team a family."
Mr. Wardisiani said that Triton College has contributed $10,000 to the team’s efforts as well as engineering expertise. However, along with preparing the robot, the students also must submit an essay about the design and details of their robot as well as prepare a presentation for a panel of judges that will take place at the competition. The team finished second in the competition in 2012.
Dr. Bessie Karvelas, principal at PMSA, said that she is impressed with the work the team has done.
"The students are able to work in a competitive environment and be leaders as part of working together in a team," she said. "I know that as a result of their hard work and effort, they will continue to make us proud."