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Robotics is an extracurricular program designed to get students involved with real-world engineering, computer science, design, math and applied physics. The team and project-management skills learned here last a lifetime. Robotics starts in Middle School and continues through Upper School though many students join only in Upper School.
Participants in both the Middle School and Upper School programs design robots for entry in their respective FIRST robotics competitions. Middle School participation is not required before becoming involved with the Upper School program.
Upper School robotics starts near the beginning of the school year with warm-up projects to learn the skills needed for competitions in January. Students then have six intense weeks to create a robot for entry in the nationwide FIRST robotics competition. Along the way, sub-teams get involved in mechanical, software, and electronics design and fabrication, website development, animation, computer-aided design, video production, marketing, finance, graphic design, and public relations. The 120-pound robots are built from scratch using aluminum, steel, electronics, and pneumatics. They are programmed in C++ or Java. In many ways, the Upper School robotics program operates like a small company with students leading various departments. Volunteers from the faculty, local industry, and the school community lend assistance and teach new concepts as needed. For more information about the Upper School robotics program visit the student-designed Upper School robotics website.
Catlin Gabel's US robotics team, 1540 the Flaming Chickens, is one of the top teams in the state and is the only Oregon team to have qualified for the FIRST World Championships the last six out of seven years.
Team 1540 is very active in the local community hosting numerous events and competitions as well as traveling to outreach venues. As a result most team members can satisfy their Catlin Gabel community service requirement through getting others excited about science and engineering.
Selected Upper School robotics participants also act as coaches for students in the Middle School robotics program. For more information about the Middle School robotics program visit the Middle School robotics website.