Maui Waena Intermediate School’s Technology Club recently traveled to Oahu to compete in the state Botball tournament held at Hanalani School in Mililani. There were 10 teams, both high school and intermediate, from Oahu. “We were the 11th team and the only one from a neighbor island,” said Jennifer Suzuki, STEM and Digital Media teacher, and advisor for the Maui Waena Intermediate School Technology Club. “We had a group of 17 students.” The goal of the competition was to build two robots that could accomplish the assigned tasks. One robot had the job of placing foam balls and blocks, called poms, into a raised basket in the middle of the field.
The second robot was programmed to run an intricate course that took it under the raised elements to move the poms around. “However, when we arrived at the competition, we realized that we misread the field map and that there were obstacles in our way that we could not get around,” Suzuki said. “Because of this, one of our main programmers, Misty Dela Cruz, had to reprogram her robot to do an entirely different function, right there at the competition.” “It was stressful,” said Dela Cruz. “I was so sad when we found out we had the field set up wrong, but then I realized that I could either cry or do something. I chose to fix the robot and I am so proud that I did.”
After the on-the-spot reprogramming, Maui Waena ended up 2nd in the seeding rounds and came in 2nd overall as well. “We also received the Judge’s Choice award for robot design,” said Suzuki. The head builder, John Fabella, commented, “Even though it was hard and things did not go as planned, we worked as a team and did not give up. That is the most important thing I learned while doing Botball.” “If not for the generosity of the Maui Economic Development Board and their Ke Alahele grant, our students would never have had this opportunity,” Suzuki noted. “MEDB offers the support our local students need to excel and compete in a larger community. They give them the chance to prove their self-worth and to challenge their minds, patience and maturity in real life situations.”