by Nancy Besonen
The Baraga High School (BHS) VBots wound up in the middle at FIRST Robotics Competition this past weekend in Escanaba. The acronym stands “For Inspiration of Science and Technology,” and Baraga placed a respectable 20th among 39 teams throughout upper and lower Michigan in Baraga’s second year at bats in robotics. FIRST is a world-wide organization promoting skills that will serve students into in the future, whatever their futures may hold. Working together to design and build a robot and compete with others teaches a wide range of lessons, from tool use to social skills to coding and more. John Westman and Eric Lauritsen serve as lead mentors or co-coaches for the team, with mentors Roger Herbert and Jeremy Brown. Team members who traveled to Escanaba included Katie Parker, Zach Welch, Opal Ellsworth, Alexis Hebert, Kara Laramore and Ryan DesRochers. The FIRST season got off to a rousing start with a launch at Houghton High School in January, including the reveal of an 80’s Arcade Games theme for 2018. Baraga’s VBots team began meeting soon after to create a robot that could hold its own, and sometimes soar, in competition. The FIRST organization covers most of the cost of the first two years of competition. Team sponsors lend support after. Westman donated his coaching stipend back to the school this year to help cover travel costs so the young team could focus entirely on its robot. He traveled with the team to Escanaba. To read more, subscribe to the L’Anse Sentinel online, or buy a print copy at our local retailers.