Creating Innovators Gear by Gear: A Profile on Palmetto’s Robotics Club

Nicole Martin, Senior Copy Editor

Miami Palmetto Senior High School’s Robotics Club, with a goal of bringing more students into the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) field, inspires students by teaching them the principles of innovation, creativity, engineering and team-building skills necessary to construct and create prototypes that influence the STEM field.

The Robotics Club consistently works to get the most progress possible out of its members, meeting about three times a week to discuss and work on projects. The club also heavily involves itself in competitions, testing students’ strengths in all areas, including an emphasis on teamwork.

“So what we try to achieve through robotics is to innovate as much as possible. So this year we had a sponsor change and also started doing this thing called SECME (science, engineering, communications, mathematics and enrichment). So basically…each group for like, the specific competitions would meet and start discussing the ideas that they have or if they’ve already done that they would start building whatever they need for their project,” MPSH senior and President of Robotics Club Valerie Vaque said.

Robotics Club does not only revolve around teaching students how to build robots and prototypes; students also learn the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and how to apply these principles in solving real-world problems.

“I would say STEM is important because it leads our innovations and all the technology moving forward in the world and I would say technology’s basically one of the most important things to improve in our world,” Vaque said. “…So this club is kind of getting people more into that earlier on.”

So far, Robotics Club has participated in a number of competitions and challenges, including the egg drop challenge, mousetrap car challenge and more recently, tried out for Brain Bowl.

“Recently, we had our team try out for brain bowl. We had another team submit some papers from [the] mousetrap car [challenge]. So we’re actually testing it in the hallway, and we actually have a video of it just going down the hall, and this is the first year that we’re doing this competition. So I’m very proud of my mouse team for accomplishing that in a pretty short amount of time…We’re just talking about some of the other competitions, some things that we need to get done in the future and all that,” Vasquez said.

For many members, robotics is more than just a club. Members work together to create a judgment-free space. Within this small community, students can reach their maximum potential in creating STEM-related projects.

“I hope that everyone in this club kind of gets a sense of community from everyone, any year and they feel comfortable working with other people because a big thing in STEM, especially in college, so I hope everyone can just feel comfortable, you know, sharing the ideas and bouncing ideas off of each other and obviously, getting a finished product everyone’s happy with,” Vaque said.

The unique part about Robotics Club is that no prior experience with robotics, prototypes or technology is necessary to become a member. But most importantly, students can unlock these abilities while still working at their own pace and having fun.

“I just like seeing how you could just have like a group of five kids that know nothing about robotics at the start of the year. And by the end of the year, they come up with something that’s so impressive, and they would have never thought they could do that before,” Vaque said. “So just like, you start from nothing, and you can learn so much in such a short amount of time. And just to see everyone like being so proud and so happy [with] what they’ve accomplished. That inspires me.”