USC Chronicle - April 28, 2008
(Volume 27, Number 29)
Community Outreach: Teamwork Pays Off for Foshay
Students show off their flair for science by winning a robotics competition in Hawaii.
Many high schools are known for their athletic teams, but the principal of James A. Foshay Learning Center, one of the USC Family of Schools, is proud that Foshay is highly regarded for its robotics team.
Foshay Learning Center's Robotics Team 597 recently returned from Hawaii, where it won top honors in a robotics competition.
USC helped fund the team along with grants from NASA, other organizations and student fundraising. USC also supplied laboratory space for robot construction.
The team is the brainchild of Foshay teachers Darryl Newhouse and Lisa Beebe, who wanted students to take a hands-on approach to math, science, engineering and technology.
Over the past seven years, an initial group of five students has grown into a nationally ranked team with 46 members.
The FIRST Hawaii Regional Robotics Competition brought 37 teams together from the United States. FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology, is a nonprofit founded in 1989 to spark students' interest in science and technology.
The competition placed robots in squads of three, pitting one against another. The objective was to score points by manipulating four oversized "trackballs" on a large oval court. The robots' rankings were based on the performances in those matches.
Each robot essentially was a long, pneumatic arm placed atop a platform on wheels maneuvered by an operator via remote control.
Foshay sent 11 students, two college mentors and two teachers to Hawaii. Team 597 captured the Website Design Award and the Engineering Inspiration Award.
Regina Boutte, assistant principal at Foshay, said the robotics program is an important part of the students' day. Contributions from sponsors, she added, give students an opportunity to "compete with high-caliber teams from all over the country."
Becoming familiar with robotics, Newhouse said, will give Foshay students an advantage over classmates when they begin college. What they take away from their experience, he said, are lessons in time management, teamwork and professionalism.
Foshay principal Veronique Wills is impressed by the team's communication skills.
USC junior Jacqueline Lemus, who joined the students on their trip to Hawaii, works with the robot's programming and wiring. Currently involved with the USC-sponsored Neighborhood Academic Initiative program, Lemus believes her participation "will open new doors and fields of thought."
Daniel Calvo, a senior at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, attended the competition as a mentor. He said that the biggest goal of the contests was to open the lines of communication with other schools.
Team 597 recently was on the road again, competing inthe FIRST Championship competition in Atlanta. While the team did not return with awards, Boutte said the students were honored to be competing in another high-profile event. "We are now ready for 2009," assistant principal Boutte said.