Robot Happy Dance! WHS Robotics Team An Inspiration At Regional Competition

The WHS Robotics team, the Wildbots #9031, won the Rookie Inspiration Award at the Central Missouri Regional competition held in Sedalia on Saturday, March 25.  Teams from Minnesota, Oklahoma and Missouri competed.
WHS science teacher Daniel Waller along with Jim Kjar and Kerry DeHaan accompanied the WHS team.
A robotics team must build a robot and then program it to complete certain tasks in competition.  According to Kjar the WHS robot weighed 120 pounds and could pick up cones and cubes and place them on shelves.  During a competition the robot moves around on an area the size of a volleyball court and is programmed by the team members to pick up the cones and cubes to place on shelves.  The other team tries to stop them from completing their tasks.  The team has to work together and with another team to win.
Kjar along with his son John started a Benton County Robotics team seven years ago and then when the pandemic hit the team shut down.  The Benton County Robotics team then approached the Warsaw R-9 School District and offered to donate their materials if the high school would start a team.  Waller offered to coach the team and a class, Principles of Technology, became the stage for the robotics group.
“The main purpose of the Robotics team is to get kids excited about science and math,” said Kjar.  “It is expensive to enter these contests.  Each contest costs around $5,000 to enter.  The Wildbots have applied for grants and have reached out to the community for support but they still need more to continue.”
According to Waller students learn about science, technology, engineering, art and math when they design, build and compete in robotics.  Team members have to talk to judges and other teams in the competition to explain how the robot works and to develop game plan strategy so as to work with the other teams that are competing.
Warsaw R-9 Board member and high school parent Amie Breshears said, “One of my favorite things about robotics is that robotics provides an opportunity for everyone, no matter what a team members brings to the table, they have a role.  The ’10 Agilities of Work’ that was shown at Saturday’s competition highlight those skills:  1) innovating, 2) serving and caring, 3) managing, 4) working with information, 5) organizing, 6) developing others, 7) inspecting, 8) operating objects, 9) judging and estimating, and 10) selling and communicating.
“They also have a unique approach to teamwork and competition, called ‘Gracious Professionalism’.  They compete fiercely, but also treat each other with respect and kindness.
“One illustration of this is that on one hand, teams compete against each other, but the way the competition is structured is that they also compete with each other in alliances against other allied teams.  It’s an interesting way to compete for sure, where your competitors are also your allies at times,” said Breshears.
Rebecca Mincks, mother of freshman robotics team member J. C. Mincks, was also very complementary of the group.
“This program covers every class and every skill that a student needs as they move on in their careers,” said Mincks.  “Not only do they learn science and math but also coding, public speaking, advertising and salesmanship.”
Mincks’ son was involved in the Lego League before joining the high school robotics team as a freshman.
“The students work on the robot during their class but they also put in hours after school as well,” said Mincks.
The Wildbots also competed in St. Louis earlier in the school year where they won Rookie All-Star and qualified for the World Championship to be held in Houston, Texas, April 19-22.  The Wildbots will be traveling to Houston with their robot to compete in a competition with 30 different countries and 50 thousand students.  The Wildbots have been working on raising the funds to pay for their transportation and expenses while in Houston.  They have several local businesses who have donated to their cause but they could use more help.  Contact Warsaw High School if you would like to help the Wildbots on their journey to the World Robotics competition next month.  Warsaw High School (660) 438-7120.