Mountain Home Robotics Teams Adapt to COVID-19 Restrictions

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Olivia Martin, Reporter/photographer

When Mountain Home Public Schools started allowing students to come back to school for the year, applications opened up for the three well-known robotics teams in the area. The Bomb Squad(high school team), The Junior Bomb Squad(junior high team), and Pinkston Robotics(Pinkston Middle School team). These teams got plenty of applications to continue this year.

On Sept. 13 Pinkston Robotics had their first meeting with five students in grades 6-7,  three high school mentors, and two adult mentors. The Junior Bomb Squad had their first in-person meeting on Sept. 15 with seven eighth-grade students and four adult mentors. And on Oct. 5, with 32 9th-12th graders, 16 adult mentors The Bomb Squad had their first meeting to explain fundraising and introduce new team members to the team.

When asked about the benefits of having high school students as mentors on the team, Pinkston Robotics student, Audrey Ballard said, “I believe they keep the teamwork equal and make sure they’re communicating.”

 Junior Bomb Squad student, Olivia Clements explains how having all new team members will affect the group,  “I think that we will have to spend more time and go more in-depth when discussing certain topics because we don’t have anyone returning this year, but I don’t think that it will cause any major problems.”

These three teams continue to meet in person and work together to make the most of their seasons even with new restrictions from COVID-19 and the CDC. As all students are wearing masks when within six to seven feet they also keep surfaces frequently touched by students and parents. Such as tabletops, doorknobs, and team owned computers. As high school students not only on The Bomb Squad but also mentoring a younger FLL(First Lego League) team Eric, Landra, and Olivia get more experience in leadership roles and also work to get more students involved in the FIRST community. 

As second, third, and fourth-year students continue their experience they must adapt to how the 2021 season is going to continue without one very special mentor, Brandon Padgett (Lead on robot design and loved mentor) who passed away this summer. 

Additional challenges of new guidelines and no guarantee that there will be live events, as well as newer students starting their very first year on the team, mentors worry about how these students will get to experience what the team is all about.

Freshman Emma Sandborn explains what she hopes to do this year. “I plan to further my education on the mechanics and programming so that I can help for next year.”

Junior Trent Guthrie explains how he believes that COVID-19 will affect the attendance and fundraising of the team, “People can still get their 100 hours in and everyone has a good time while keeping masks on and working together.”