Robotics team at Woodland High School nearly doubles in size


Woodland High School’s robotics team, known as the Beaver Bots, gained 12 new members this year, which nearly doubled the size of the team. 

The team, according to the school district, attracts a diverse range of students from every grade level who compete against other schools’ robots in events that involve challenging tasks and logic-based problems inspired by real-world scenarios.

The Beaver Bots are one of 140 teams at high schools across Washington state who take part in the For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology (FIRST) robotics competitions. FIRST kicks off each year-long competition with a different theme, which features detailed tasks and a list of specifications on what parts teams can use to build their robots. 

This year’s theme, Power Play, revolves around the concept of electricity and circuits, stated a news release. 

In a timed match, the teams’ robots must travel autonomously from a starting point to pick up items and then deliver them to the other side of the field to complete a “circuit” with the most effective robot receiving more points.

Math teacher Jennifer Benedict and science teacher Stephanie Marshall serve as the team’s advisers. 

“We make sure the team is nearly entirely student-led,” Marshall stated in the release. “We serve as the advisers, but we want the students to learn and grow by handling every aspect of the team.”

To deal with the growth of the team, Marshall said they had to implement a leadership hierarchy with a board of five students who make most of the decisions.

The team features three different roles: builders, programmers and project managers. 

The team starts each season by brainstorming ideas for the robot and drafting initial designs using the specifications provided by the FIRST League’s organizers. 

Following the initial planning stages, the builders create the robot and make modifications as needed, while the programmers use JavaScript, a programming language, to program the different elements of the robot. Programmers also create artificial intelligence for the robot to allow it to move autonomously without human interaction for part of the competition. 

The project managers create and maintain the engineering notebook which includes compiling the building plans, tracking any design changes, and maintaining the team’s budget along with ordering parts and documenting receipts. The engineering notebook is later judged during the competition.

The close-knit teamwork was what drew Angelina Smith, a senior and one of the team’s leads, to robotics. 

“I like working in groups and my teammates are all very cool,” Smith stated in the release. “I really like the creativity, particularly brainstorming sessions where we’re finding creative solutions to problems.”

Community members who are interested in learning how to support the Beaver Bots, can contact the team by email at