From robotics director Dale Yocum:
History was made today in the Catlin Gabel robotics program. I’ve coached well over fifty FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams in my 14 seasons here at Catlin Gabel. Because we insist that the kids do 100% of the work we have not, in all those years, had a team actually WIN at the state competition. That changed today when 8th grade Catlin Gabel Team Quantum won state! This is a big deal and qualifies them for the FIRST World Championships in St. Louis in April. While our upper school robotics team often qualifies for worlds, this is the first time any of our Lego teams have done so!
Oregon has one of the largest Lego robotics programs in the country, with well over 400 teams so winning here is a big deal. These teams spend the fall designing, programming, and building robots that score the highest number of points on a 4’x8’ course. Not only did Catlin Gabel’s Team Quantum win the Champion's award at state, they also won the 1st place award for the highest score of the day, a whopping 453 points! No Catlin Gabel team has ever done that at state, either. By the way, the median score today was in the 150-200 range.
Teams also create research projects around a specified topic each year. This year that was innovations in education. Quantum chose to create a training system for medical workers struggling in Ebola zones to properly doff their protective gear. You might recall several nurses in Texas contracted Ebola recently by doing this improperly. Quantum created a special conductive suit to wear under the typical protective suit that would beep when the trainee touched it thus “contaminating” it. They did the sewing and the electronics, and had a full-size working model to show the judges. Impressive stuff.
Quantum’s members are 8th graders Avi Gupta, Kian Palmer, Mathus Leungpathomaram, Quinn Okabayashi, and Tyler Nguyen. They were coached by Upper School robotics team co-president Jacob Bendicksen ’16. Kian’s father, Bruce Palmer, really stepped up to coach weekend and evening practices while the team members were involved with basketball and a host of other activities. He’s also volunteered to coach the team at worlds if Jacob and I are occupied with the US team, the Flaming Chickens (if we qualify). Thanks, Bruce!
Join me in congratulating this amazing team. We couldn’t be prouder.