The average person would define Wookies as tall, hairy humanoids from the Star Wars fictional universe. In Lake Stevens, “The Wookies” are an award-winning robotics team from Cavelero Mid High School. Made up of three freshmen—Jonah Hanson, Jacob Sasse and Jason Allen—The Wookies are sweeping robotics competitions on a local, state and national level.
Most recently, The Wookies took second place out of 60 teams at the Western Washington VEX Robotics Competition Championship with help from the “If it Fits it Ships” team, made up of freshmen Tyler VanBrocklin and Chris Forbes and eighth-grader Luc Violette. The win earned The Wookies an automatic spot at the 2013 VEX Robotics High School World Championship, April 17-20 in Anaheim, Calif.
“I love to build and explore what different combinations of parts do,” said Hanson. “I definitely want to continue studying engineering through high school and college and pursue a career in this field.”
“Exploring different ways to accomplish routine tasks with technology fascinates me,” added Allen.
The Cavelero Mid High School Engineering Club meets twice a week with a focus on building robots to compete in a game called Sack Attack. VEX Sack Attack is played on a 12’x12’ square field. Two alliances—one “red” and one “blue”—composed of two teams each, compete in matches consisting of a 15 second autonomous period followed by 1:45 of driver-controlled play. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance by scoring “sacks” and “bonus sacks” with bean bags in your colored floor goals, troughs and high goal, and by having the most robots of your color parked at the end of the match.
VEX creates a game each year, in collaboration with the Technology Student Association and Project Lead the Way. Student teams across the country build robots to complete the game and compete with one another. The rules are outlined in July, and teams have the opportunity to compete regionally and qualify for the state, national and world competitions.
The Wookies and their fellow club members don’t work alone. The club is coached by a dedicated group of Cavelero teachers—Jeff Lynass, Will Fredin and Michael McGrath.
“The students are having fun, but they’re also using important skills from their Principles of Engineering, Manufacturing Technology and Gateways to Technology classes.”
An enthusiastic pair of volunteers from Electroimpact also advised club members for more than two months.
“It was fun to see the kids really getting involved in problem solving, critical thinking and engineering solutions to fit the problem,” said Paul Thompson, a project manager from Electroimpact and parent of a former Cavelero student. “This field is important to me, because I believe that a strong science education can start early. I think it’s key to have many clubs in high school so kids can decide early what they are interested in.”