Story and Slideshow: Robot rampage for Lenape District robotics teams

LRHSD teams were among 37 teams who recently competed at Seneca High School

On a Saturday in March, the Seneca High School gym was full of cheering people. There were some who dressed up as soup cans. There were chants and dances going on as well.

While most would have thought there was a basketball game going on, it was a different type of competition. Instead of athletic prowess and athletes being on the gym floor, mental acuity and future mechanical engineers were on display. Seneca was the site for the FIRST Mid-Atlantic Robotics Seneca District Competition.

The competition had 37 teams from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Two of the teams were comprised of Lenape Regional High School District students. According to the FIRST Mid-Atlantic rules, teams are given parts and rules on what specifications are allowed and what the tasks of the event will include. The teams and their mentors take over from there.

The two Lenape teams were the Iron Devils Robotics Team and the Storm Robotics Team. The Iron Devils were comprised of students from both Seneca and Shawnee high schools.

“It feels amazing and awesome seeing everyone around us working so hard and learning about new things,” said Iron Devils team member Melanie Weaver, a 16-year-old junior at Seneca. “It’s inspiring and very hopeful for our futures.“
The way the Iron Devils came up with their name was also unique.

“Around here, we used to have iron works buildings,” Weaver said. “There is also the myths about the Jersey Devil. We combined the two things and that is how we came up with the name Iron Devils.”

Allison Mosley, an 18-year-old Cherokee senior, was a part of the Storm Robotics Team, which was comprised of both Lenape and Cherokee high schools students.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Mosley said. “For us at Cherokee, this is our home competition because it is in our district. Our robot did well. We were so excited to see what would come up with and what would happen and where we would place.”

The Iron Devils and Storm Robotics faced each other in a match. The Iron Devils joined two teams to form the Red Alliance, and Storm Robotics teamed with two teams to form the Blue Alliance. The Blue Alliance won.

Although neither team took the overall prize, they did not go away empty handed. Storm Robotics went home with the Entrepreneurship Award sponsored by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers. According to the FIRST website, it is given to the team that “celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit by recognizing a team that has developed the framework for a comprehensive business plan to scope, manage and achieve team objectives.” The Iron Devils won the Team Spirit Award sponsored by the FCA Foundation. This was awarded because of “extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit through exceptional partnership and teamwork furthering the objectives of FIRST.”

While the robots are fun to watch and a lot of fun and excitement surrounded the event, it has a bigger lasting impact on those who participate.

“It’s really awesome because usually, for our schools, unless you are in sports or something like that, you’re pretty much confined to just your school,” Mosley said. “But through FIRST Robotics, we’re able to go out and see so many other students engaged in STEM within our area. It’s awesome to be able to make connections with students who we normally would never be able to before. I’m just really excited and I’m really glad to see that FIRST is making an impact within our community.”

Click the box below to see more pictures from the competition.

FIRST Mid-Atlantic Robotics Seneca District Competition