CCS Robotics: The Redemptive Power of Repair

Lauren McNeese, Features Editor

Ever wonder what the blue, red, and grey arena sitting in the outdoor classroom is purposed for? It is Chattanooga Christian School’s brand-new, state-of-the-art robotics arena. When robotics comes to mind, one may think of an afterschool club, a high school resume builder, or an opportunity to hang out and eat free pizza. However, Matthew Monahan, Bible and history department head as well as high school robotics teacher advisor, sees it as much more than that. “Repair is redemptive. Taking broken things and fixing them is greatly symbolic of the pattern of resurrection,” he says. “This is a Biblical concept, through the resurrection of the entire cosmos promised in Isaiah and described symbolically in Revelation.”

Sam Raiford, a freshman and driver for The A Team, describes robotics as “home.” “We work and it’s good to focus, but we also have to joke around and have fun. Because if we don’t it becomes work and a chore. We want to become a family, not just a team,” he elaborates.  

High school students come to robotics with a range of backgrounds. “Some show up knowing how to build and program, some people come with no knowledge, and they want to learn, some of our players are not inclined to building and programming, but they are organized people, and we need them, too,” Monahan explains. CCS has a total of six teams, 37409A (The A Team),  37409B (The Dumpster Divers), 37409C (Erebos), 37409D (Five Star), 37409E (Alpha Wolves), and 37409G (The Three Musketeers).

Chloe Yarbrough, sophomore and member of The Dumpster Divers, would describe her role as “Team Mom.” Basically, she makes sure that everyone on her team is doing what they need to be doing during practices, keeps track of progress in the team’s journal, and scouts other teams at competitions.

Lincoln Stanfield and Finn Sparks, both freshman and members of The A Team, are their team’s mechanical engineers and builders. They are the brains of the team, continually thinking of ways to improve their team’s robot, Mechanical Advantage.

When asked who the star robotics members are, Monahan responds, “Ironically, the teams I'd probably brag about are doing so well because they realize that it's not about one member of the team but about communication and working as one unit. Many teams are doing this well. Our B team won a judges award at our first competition because of this.”

It’s important that our younger students are exposed to robotics at a young age as well. Monahan states, “Any computer that you can program and write code, or websites that will help you program (i.e. Scratch), can help instill the skills needed to thrive at a higher level of robotics in younger students. One of the best things that people can do instead of buying things is to fix old things, like computers and lawnmowers.”

A good robot should be able to efficiently, consistently, and reliably score points in the arena, and it would not matter whether it’s controlled by a human or a computer program. They do this through toggling flags, shooting balls, and flipping and stacking cones. However, if a robot is very strong in one area, it may ally with another robot who is very strong in another area in competitions. So before teams try to build the best robot in all aspects, they must first try mastering one specific skill. The team journal is a valuable asset and team interview a critical component in doing well at competitions.

In early fall, CCS students traveled to a competition at Tennessee Tech University one weekend, and a few weeks later to a competition at Brentwood. However, the league is becoming local this year, and CCS will be hosting! “Brentwood is the robotics juggernaut of Tennessee; we aspire to one day beat them,” Monahan adds, “Chatt has a lot of new local teams, and we want to see them as family, to be Nooga strong, and not as rivals… hopefully together we can put the hurt on the rest of Tennessee.”

So this January, if you want to support Chattanooga, and “put the hurt on the rest of Tennessee” through CCS’s new robotics program, stop by the local league in your very own varsity gym.