The RoboRebels, FIRST team 1153, of Walpole, Massachusetts, was established in 2002. Since then, we have grown from a couple of high school students and a visionary teacher to a much larger group that includes mentors, coaches and parent volunteers. In the beginning, we struggled as we adapted to the FIRST environment, but with each passing year we have risen to the challenge.
Our team consists of high school students ages 13 to 18, with approximately 30 students on the team each year. By being part of the team, students obtain valuable hands-on educational experiences through collaborative projects, interpersonal skills from working with fellow students, alumni, teachers, mentors, and sponsors, and a solid knowledge base which will help them in their post high school pursuits, typically at a university studying in the science and technology fields. While on the team, students work alongside our talented group of mentors, with experience in these fields, who are able to help the students learn more than they would be able to on their own.
In 2014 we were finalists of our division at the First Robotics Championship in St. Louis. We made it back to St. Louis in 2016 and 2017, the first time we have gone to the Championship back-to-back. As a team we strive to be the best that we can be by not only making it these championships, but by working together to build a robot that everyone can be proud of. Each year we build our robot around a list of criteria we create after we analyze the game. Over the past few years, we have won many prestigious awards, from the Industrial Design Award to the Excellence in Engineering Award to the Quality Award and many more.
At the recent Strategic Planning Committee meeting headed by our school superintendent, a proposal by Dustin Scott, our founder, was accepted to implement in fall 2013, two courses based on FIRST robotics – Intro to Robotics, a semester long course and Advanced Robotics, a full year course that can be taken all four years in high school. The goal was to give students interested in robotics, who had other commitments after school, the opportunity to be part of the robotics team- and to give students already devoting countless hours to receive academic credit. As part of the strategic plan, the next goal is to introduce engineering/robotics coursework into middle school and finally into K-5.
Aside from building robots, we build community. From chanting for Sargent Sizzler in the team’s founding years to waving rally towels in the most recent years, we have always came together to cheer our robots on. Although we spend our time building robots, we build bonds that will last forever. You may have seen the team at Walpole Day or other community events such as Jarvest Harvest. We bring robots to these events so that we can show younger kids what it is like to be on the team, and inspire them to someday be a member. It also gives the team an opportunity to show the community as a whole, who we are and what we do. We take great pride in our work, and sharing it with our community is important to us