Young Python Robotics Team Becomes Strong Force

March 14, 2014

by Rhiannon Snide, Pelham High School Intern

“Gnarly driving, killer programming, and sheer luck” are just three of many attributions Pelham High School’s robotics team accredited to their recent success.

On February 28 and March 1, Pelham High School’s very own Python Robotics team competed and placed third overall in the first of many FIRST Robotics district competitions.  A team that for two years has made very little impact at the competitions, slithered into the arena and in the words of Pelham High Senior Emily Lamport, “took Nashua South by storm.”

With a record of eight wins and four losses, no one, including the Pythons, had expected the young team to be such a strong force at the competition.  “Considering we could barely move for our first two practice rounds and first three matches, we came in by total surprise,” said Nick Lauren, Pelham High senior.

This year, the competition gave students six weeks to construct and program a robot that could pick up, and throw a 2-foot diameter ball through an 11-foot high goal.  During the game three robots would be placed on either side of the court to form alliances as each of the three worked together in order to score the most points and win the match.  Pelham, coming in third, were not only a prime alliance to obtain, but they were able to choose their own teammates this year, something they have never experienced in the past.

Accrediting this feat to the “innovative” design of the robot was Emily Lamport “We didn’t use any stored energy in our robot; we won the ‘Excellence in Engineering’ award because of that … our innovative design really contributed to our accomplishments.”

Although the design of the robot worked out the day of the competition, getting to the competition was a struggle for the team.  The Pythons hassled with programming and mechanics until the third round of matches.  “This team is still very young and realizing just because it is called ‘stop build day’ doesn’t mean that is when a team should stop building,” said Doug Vincent, owner of Design Mentor and the Pythons team mentor.  “Most teams were finished with construction a week or two before, so they were able to work out a lot of the system level kinks.”

In the end every kink was sorted out, and the clear improvement made by the team over the last year came as a surprise to everyone.  According to Doug Vincent, “Our rookie year was a classic rookie year, our second year was a classic second year, and now we are more like a fifth- or sixth-year program here in our third, so this year we have taken a quantum leap forward.”