WESTFORD — Did you know Westford has a high-school robotics team?
The Stormgears are a group of high school students from Westford, Acton, Boxborough, Chelmsford and Littleton among others who use robotics to cultivate student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Teammate and Westford Academy senior Veronica Cheng said that “everyone should have an equal opportunity to do STEM and learn what they want to learn to make the world a better place.”
Originally founded in 2014, the 49-member team has worked with a number of students in countries such as Columbia, Thailand and Botswana.
Members say their goal is to increase accessibility to STEM in developing regions. They hope to give equal opportunities to all students engaged in STEM.
“Everyone should have an equal opportunity to do STEM and learn what they want to learn to make the world a better place,” Elenu Wu, team member and sophomore at Westford Academy told WestfordCAT.
Involvement with FIRST
The Stormgears are one of many teams part of FIRST or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. FIRST is a non-profit dedicated to inspiring young people to be science and technology innovators through leadership, problem-solving and community engagement.
The team is part of the First Robotics Competition — a competition for students between 14 and 18 years old. Many students in FRC graduate from First Lego League, or FLL, a competition for younger students in elementary and middle school.
Through the program, the team has competed against and collaborated with other students through regional and global competitions.
Last September, the team ran an FLL workshop, which introduces younger students to STEM through hands-on learning.
“It’s like a pipeline, you have to get them engaged in robotics and STEAM,” Sai Vuppuluri, a freshman at Westford Academy told WestfordCAT.
His teammate Ajay Krishnan, a freshman at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School added, “We’re gonna scale this up into something bigger. We want to make sure there’s something…so they [the children] can keep running their robots.”
Members typically will work with and host workshops with The Gummy Bears, an FLL team from Westford.
The Stormgears also plan to introduce more workshops for FLL teams in Columbia to continue expanding engineering opportunities around the world.
The Stormgears’ non-profit, STEAM Splash, was created alongside the team in 2014 to promote STEM within their communities and beyond.
Through STEAM Splash, the team has organized multiple outreach events geared toward elementary school children. It is also how they work with other FLL and FRC teams over the world.
“People across the world can access it at any time. We [can] reach the most amount of people in the shortest amount of time,” Vuppuluri said.
For their global outreach, the team was awarded the Engineering Inspiration Award by FIRST, which “celebrates outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering,” according to the FIRST website.
“The teams are trying to make the world a better place,” Wu said. “It’s not about just building the best robot in the field. It’s about giving people the tools they need to achieve their dreams.”
Managing Editor Ben Domaingue contributed to the reporting on this article.