The first ever Forest Hills robotics team takes on every competition programmed its way

The first ever Forest Hills robotics team takes on every competition programmed its way

When you think of programs that schools can offer, the opportunities are endless when you match the correct people with the correct idea. The Forest Hills Public School District has many hidden projects that it has kept from the community over the year, and the Forest Hills Robotics team is one of those gems. 

“The robotics team is really cool,” freshman mechanic Frey Wu stated. “Everyone is very accepting, and no one judges you. Our mentors like to joke around with us and create a great environment to work.”

Many people do not think of robotics when they think of Forest Hills, but the three sibling schools have their very own joint team that is always ready for its next competition. With the team currently being in-season and tournaments being held all over the area, the goals that this coed team can achieve are endless. 

It takes a team to build a robot and an arena for the bots to travel across, and I actually got to hang out with the team for a couple of hours at Calvin College to see what goes into setting up. After multiple hours of placing, tarping, and taping floors for the robots to travel over, I now have a new appreciation for the process prior to the actual competition during the tournament.

In addition to the setup, the programming and process of prepping the robot take complete concentration and skill to put together the team’s robot and is not an easy feat. There are coders, robot designers, mechanical engineers, and multiple other jobs that go into one machine. Due to the intensity of this process, keeping the robot in prime condition is always the goal, but sometimes it does not work out the way the team wants.

“My favorite memory from this season is when the robot went over a jump pad,” Frey said. “It got some great air, but it ended up getting damaged which wasn’t the best situation for us afterward.”

The team is run by many mentors including FHC’s very own 2015 alum Camden Pastyrnak and long-time Forest Hills board member Marti Atwater. Marti Atwater absolutely adores the team and does anything she can on the non-electrical side of the boys’ work.

“I do anything I can to help the team competition that doesn’t have to do with the technical side,” Mrs. Atwater said. “The students are absolutely my favorite part of this group and they make it worth my time to do what I do while having fun and working together.”

Mrs. Atwater has worn many hats on this team as a mentor and an overall role model, but this year, she challenged the team to do something truly special with its time which led to the team being featured on the School News Network for the work it accomplished. The team turned run-down bikes that it received through a bike drive into good-as-new bikes that were donated to Upcycle Bikes; Upcycled Bikes is an organization that refurbishes used bikes for refugees that are served by Bethany Christian Services and the AYA Youth Collective. 

With all of the work the team has done outside of school to help those less fortunate around them while competing in one of the most difficult team activities a high schooler can be a part of, it is clear that this combined Forest Hills team has something special to offer and will let nothing in its way to finding success. So, the next time you consider an extracurricular activity and if you like the STEM program, consider the robotics team. Preparing for competitions is the perfect physical and mental cardio for anyone looking for a challenge!