Paul Revere Robotics Club Qualifies for State Championships

State tournament set for March 10 

By Keemia Zhang

The Paul Revere Middle School Robotics club is heading to the 2023 State Championships following a parent-led effort to raise funds for the group’s formation.

Sarah Wood, the parent chair of the team, sought to form an after-school robotics club through Revere’s Personal Enrichment Program’s program in both 2021 and 2022 but was informed there was a lack of teacher participation and financial resources to support the group.

Last August, Wood, who researched grants to fund the team, recruited coaches from the parent body instead – Danny Moghnie, who offers “engineering feedback and coding support” and “paces the kids projects”, as well as Joe McKelheer, who provides “educational resources, and rallies them to work towards team goals.” Wood also shares responsibilities of supervising and motivating the kids, in addition to organizing team logistics and is frequently in touch with the competition officials and parents.

Wood decided to apply for grants in September to fund the club and won the Nelson Grant, which exchanged robotics kits for participation in one of their robotics tournaments. The club is substantiated primarily through these grants – including donations from the Palisades Rotary club – as well as additional fees paid for by parents. Revere’s PRIDE Booster Club assisted with the entry fees for the State Championship, an “unexpected” expense.

The three rookie teams of the club participated in the LAUSD West VEX IQ League, meeting for three of the four competitions from October to January after their kits were back ordered for the first round. “We went to the second one, failed miserably, and learned a lot. We went to the third one and to the finals and improved significantly. Our teams came in second place and tied for third, and won the Design Award, Excellence Award, and Teamwork Award.” 

Wood expressed pride in her students, who started their building for the competition with a singular kit at the end of October, finally receiving the back-ordered kits the first week of November, while many teams “got a much earlier start.”

Wood also organized participation in the Slapshot Tournament, a robotics competition in the Valley, where the team competed “with a lot of private schools and private club teams, as well as public schools teams with extensive experience and resources.” With difficulties in finance, resources, and a lack of experience, Wood and her colleagues have felt the weight of the challenge they will face at the State Championship. “We are scrambling trying to do as much as we can.” 

The parent-led effort has faced multiple challenges, with Wood anticipating having to increase the joining fees next semester to pay the entry fees for competitions. But Wood is adamant about the group’s importance for children as they develop.

“There are a lot of great after-school activities at Revere such as sports, debate, mock trial, and drama – involving athletic, verbal, or performance-related skill sets, but nothing STEM related until now. STEM is really important for the future, considering our world’s direction.”

Wood, who previously worked at Google as a test engineer and linguist, also points out that kids can learn teamwork and problem-solving.

 “It’s nice to find other kids that have similar passions to you and to bond with them.”

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