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Rookie Robotics Team Seeks To Beat The Odds

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Students from the Spingarn Senior High School prepare their robot for competition.
Jessica Gould
Students from the Spingarn Senior High School prepare their robot for competition.

By Jessica Gould

To win the competition, teams have to use their robots to push a soccer ball into a small, mesh goal. But Richelle King says the students at Spingarn Senior High School in Northeast D.C. have other goals in mind.

"Whatever we're doing we have to sit and take a break. We call it a pause, pray and praise session when the kids actually sit down and think about themselves and what they're going to do tomorrow," she says.

This is Spingarn's first year with a robotics club. When no other teachers stepped up to lead the team, King, a guidance counselor, offered to do it. As a result, the robotics club often looks more like a support group than an electronics lesson.

"I am a counselor," says King. "I definitely don't know anything about engineering or putting things together. But what I am good at is organizing and getting students to go beyond the limit."

Spingarn’s robot is bare bones, a rectangle on wheels. Soon after the match starts, it stalls. King's daughter, Mioni, is the club's leader.

"Actually, it got the ball stuck in the middle of the wiring and everything and the chain popped," she explains.

She says she's just happy to see the rookie team compete.

"But we still got the experience and we’re here," she says.

Nearly 60 teams are participating in the contest.

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