student working on a robot

Catlin Gabel's robotics program involves students with real-world engineering, computer science, design, math, and applied physics. The team and project-management skills learned here last a lifetime. 

Robotics is offered as part of the Lower School’s After School Program with LEGO Robotics. Middle School students may form teams coached by parents/guardians with support from Catlin Gabel.

In the Upper School, students may participate after school on the FIRST Robotics Competition team, 1540 the Flaming Chickens. Participation in a LEGO robotics program is not required before joining the Upper School program.

For information and questions, please contact Dale Yocum, Engineering Program Director.

Lower School LEGO Robotics

Starting in the 4th grade, Lower School students have the option to join the after-school LEGO Robotics program. 

Students take advantage of our dedicated LEGO Robotics lab with its 70,000+ pieces to build anything they like as long as it’s a robot. Along the way they are learning programming and mechanical design. Frequent optional challenges are introduced for some friendly competition and deadline urgency. Students earn “RoboBucks” for their creations which are used in an auction at the end of the year. 

Middle School LEGO Robotics

For Middle School students, Catlin Gabel plays a support role for parents/guardians who want to form and coach First LEGO League robotics teams.

The school loans LEGO parts free of charge to these teams. Engineering Program Director Dale Yocum and Upper School students provide technical help and strategic advice as requested.

Parents/guardians may sign up here for free training seminars from ORTOP.

Upper School Robotics

1540 robot competition

Upper School robotics starts near the beginning of the school year with our fall competition, BunnyBots, 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, graphic design, and public relations. The 130-pound robots are built from scratch using aluminum, steel, electronics, and pneumatics. They are programmed in Java. In many ways, the Upper School robotics program operates like a small company with students leading various departments. For more information about the Upper School robotics program visit the student-designed Upper School robotics website.

The Upper School team is about more than robots. The team has won over $50,000 in prizes for its community engineering work devising solutions to problems as varied as water transportation and disinfection in developing countries to bringing solar power and light to the previously houseless in Portland.

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