Robotics competition showcases the best in … citizenship


By Chris Faulknor, Publisher

We didn’t have a robotics team when I was in high school.
And, when I first heard about it, I wondered what the big deal was.
Some kids got a grant and started a new school-sponsored activity.
It was great and all, but I didn’t see where all the hype was coming from.
Then I got talked into attending their competition this past weekend.
It was a great opportunity because I was able to support the Boyne City team which I’d heard so much about and support the Boyne Falls team which included the cousin-child you’ve all heard so much about.
When I went down, I have to say, it hit me like a ton of bricks.
It wasn’t the robots.
They were cool.
Don’t get me wrong.
Student-built robots were driving around picking up balls and shooting them, and it was amazing that they built them, but that wasn’t what got me.
What got me was the culture.
What got me was that Boyne City and Boyne Falls schools were getting together to help each other with their robots and calling it a collabratition—or something like that.
Despite competing, students from schools across the state were laughing together and line dancing to the song Cotton Eyed Joe between matches.
Teams were working together to make sure everyone’s robots made it to the end.
They were loaning each other supplies, congratulating each other, cheering for each other, and being good people.
I didn’t know what to say, because it’s not how most school activities work.
I had no clue how to react when, despite being eliminated, teams chose to stay around to watch everyone else compete and cheer the other teams on.
I didn’t have words because the First Robotics Competition was teaching our students the skills that our society needs more of: cooperation, logic, kindness, and the ability to be happy for any success even if it isn’t their own.
The people on the teams at that competition weren’t just the people controlling and working on the robots, either.
They were people on the team for fundraising.
They were kids responsible for making sure the rules and regulations were followed and everyone was safe.
They were students who designed the programming so these robots could run off of a laptop and an adapted X-Box controller.
And despite the work being done for many of them by the time the competition rolled around, they were visibly every much as part of the team as the person holding the joystick.
I’m proud of our community for getting behind this endeavor for both schools.
I was proud to be supporting Boyne City and Boyne Falls, but the bigger picture is that it gave me some hope.
It gave me hope that our kids know how to cooperate and compete at the same time.
I became more optimistic by watching these people work.
And I know that this activity is going to help them be better at whatever they do.
Sure, some may go into the field of robotics and machining, and I’m sure they will find this helpful.
But I don’t even mean that.
They will be better public speakers as they remember visiting the Kiwanis Club for a presentation at 7 a.m. on a Thursday morning.
They will be better with their finances because they helped fundraise and knew they had finite resources and used them intelligently.
They will be better men and women because they had this chance.
I was proud, I was optimistic, and I was blown away.
Great job to both teams, and thank-you to our community for getting behind them.


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