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Zbotz zoom to state competition

The FIRST technical challenge is a robotics competition for pre-K through high school-aged kids. Every year FIRST puts out a different challenge that students compete in for a chance to go to state. In addition, competitors have to write a 15-page manuscript/portfolio with a computer-aided design (CAD) of their robot, as well as a detailed explanation of what the robot does. 

The all-girls robotics team comprised of Rockwood Summit students won the Inspire award for their impressive portfolio, getting the chance to go to state. 

Senior Alexis Lieberman described how she and the team prepared for the qualifier and what the process of making a robot is like.

“The challenge came out in September and then we had a few months until our first competition in November. We weren’t really ready for our competition in November, we only had a Push Bot which just pushed the pixels… It’s been a big process of tweaking, prototyping, and designing, so we can get the perfect robot. [It] all pretty much came together the week before the qualifier,” Lieberman said. 

The team is in a program through the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri (GSEM). The program was created in an effort to encourage women and girls to work in STEM. 

Senior Michelle Serrano explains how it felt finding out they had a chance to travel to Rolla for the state competition. 

 “[Finding out] was kind of like disbelief because we didn’t think we were going to state at all, so we were all just kind of shocked,” Serrano said. 

Lieberman said that she wasn’t expecting to place as well as they did in terms of the award process.  

“We won an award because of our CAD design and because of our good programming and our portfolio in general. We had just pulled our robot together… the week before, so we [thought we would] do pretty good in the actual robot game but [not] for the award process,” Lieberman said. 

Junior Audrey Compton shares that dealing with coding was the most challenging thing leading up to the robot games. 

“Dealing with the coding [was the most difficult thing] because we have an autonomous period where you can’t drive the robot and our sensors were just not working…Things were just going a little rough. Michelle pulled through though, she’s amazing, but that was definitely the scariest thing…We had free time between presenting [the] robot to the judges and competitions so the entire three hours we were working on [coding,]” Compton said. 

The students went to the state competition on Saturday, March 2nd, and placed 17th overall. Serrano explains there is a process to qualify.

“[There are] three competitions, one regional where everyone goes and four from each region goes to state, so we went to state this year. 36 teams were in state, and only 4 go to worlds.” Serrano said. 

The competitions have students from different regions of Missouri.

 Compton explains her favorite parts of the robot meets “[I like talking] to other teams… It’s really interesting. We were able to talk to John Brewers team, The Bombers, they were really nice.” Compton said.

Similarly, sophomore Mint Maserang said, “I really like meeting the other teams and seeing their robots, and how they chose to design and overcome the challenges.”

Senior Reshmika Janga explains how the group gets funding.

 “We do a fundraiser through Girl Scouts, [and also receive a] grant from Boeing Co,” Janga said.

The Zbots is a Girl Scouts-sponsored robotics club consisting of five Summit students. These students’ grades range from sophomore to senior. Senior Alexis Liberman is the president with senior members Reshmika Janga and Michelle Serrano, junior Audrey Compton, and sophomore Mint Maserang.

The students went to the state competition on Saturday, March 2nd, and placed 17th overall. There is a process to qualify.

“[There are] Three competitions, one regional where everyone goes and four from each region goes to state, so we went to state this year. [There were] 36 teams were in state, and only 4 go to worlds.” Serrano said.

With each round being 3 minutes long, Serrano, the driver, said she finds controlling the robot exciting. The competitions have students from different regions of Missouri.

Compton said she “[Likes talking] to other teams… It’s really interesting. We were able to talk to John Brewers team, The Bombers, they were really nice.” Similarly, Maserang said, “I really like meeting the other teams and seeing their robots, and how they chose to design and overcome the challenges.”

“[The team was created] right after COVID…It’s just summit kids… more [of an] independent team.” Liberman said.

“All of us do [robotics] 3 hours a week…” when they meet at their coach’s house, Rick Roberts. “[When entering a competition, each team] gets one challenge per year and you build a robot to get as many points as possible in that challenge, and this [competition] was called center stage. [The rules consist of] many different ways you can get points in the game, there’s like penalties. You can get points by doing certain tasks in the field, you can also give the other team points by doing things that go against the rules.” Said Serrano.

Janga said “We’re self-sufficient [so] we do a fundraiser through Girl Scouts, [and also receive a] grant from Boeing Co.” Their sponsors help fund the materials for their robot, which they named “Cherry in the end, but [naming] it was impulsive.” Said Janga.

To make their robots different from others, Janga said “We have a lot of bows on our robot, it was like our theme.”

The Zbots have won 2 awards since creating the team. “We won first place THINK at our regional competition (Engineering and Design), [Inspire] is the combination of a successful robot, strong and outreached.” Said Liberman. “Inspire [award] we won second,” Janga said.

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About the Contributors
Skylar Holtgrewe, News Editor
Class of 2027 I am involved in both fall and winter guard, and I've been playing the violin for 7 years. My favorite musicians are Noah Kahan, Taylor Swift, Lizzy McAlpine, and Phoebe Bridgers.
Mariam Sedeiqi, Of The Talon staff
Class of 2025 HOSA

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