Robotics at Sidwell

Sidwell Friends offers a highly competitive school-wide robotics program with teams that participate in annual competitions.

The Sidwell Friends School Robotics program was founded in 2003 on the Lower School campus. Led by the Lower School Technology Director Jennifer Voorhees, the team participated in the FIRST Lego League (FLL) Tournament. Although the team didn't come home with a trophy, the experience left many students interested in further pursuing robotics. Upon entering middle school, students and teachers were motivated to expand the program. Shortly thereafter, both the Lower and Middle School teams began to compete in the annual FLL competitions.

After graduating middle school, the inaugural team members had no robotics events to attend, as the Upper School had no program. However, in 2010, the Sidwell Upper School acquired a new computer science teacher who was interested in founding a team that would participate in the FIRST FTC and MATE-ROV competitions. Many students embraced the opportunity to compete again and triumphantly led the rookie team to a victory in the Virginia regional FTC competition.

Robotics has proven to be a fantastic way of introducing students to the fields of engineering and computer science outside the classroom. We've been incredibly encouraged by the amount of excitement the teams have generated and are looking forward to expanding the program in the future.

Lower School

Since 2003, the Sidwell Friends Lower School has participated in annual First Lego League (FLL) competitions.

In 2003, students in the Lower School, Director of Technolgoy, Jennifer Voorhees, and science teacher, Sam Francis joined together and formed the Sidwell Bots. The Sidwell Bots participated in the 2004 FLL competition (Mars Mission). The team didn't come home with a trophy, but students were left so interested that they continued to pursue robotics in the Middle School.

Currently, the Sidwell Lower School sends a team to the annual FLL competition, and in 2010 the team was a qualifier at the Maryland Regional competition.

Middle School

The Middle School robotics team participates in annual First Lego League (FLL) competitions.

In 2005, the Director of Technology in the Middle School, Paul Way, attempted to bring the Lower School's robotics program to the Middle School. Although the team didn't enter competition, the experience set the stage for the 2008 Middle School Team.

In 2008, Middle School Principal, Sally Selby, brought together a team of seventh graders and one eight grader to participate in the FLL annual competition. The Compact Flourescent Bots (CFBs), the first competing Middle School Team, won the Team Work Trophy that year.

Since the CFBs, the Middle School Robotics team has participates in FLL competitions, and the program continues to grow.

Upper School

In 2010, the Sidwell Friends School RoboFoxes, a rookie team, won first place in the Northern Virginia Regional First Tech Challenge (FTC) competition.

In 2010, Computer Science Teacher, Darby Thompson, began a robotics program in the Upper School. Many students seized the opportunity and led the team to a shocking victory at the FTC regional competition and were division finalists in the Virginia State competition as the team with the highest total points for an individual match.

The RoboFoxes paved the way for the second and third robotics teams that formed in the spring of 2011. After an Upper School wide robotics assembly, where the team demonstrated their robot and competition videos, many students signed up for the robotics club. Due to the surge of new members, the club broke off into two branches. Juniors and seniors in the club formed the varsity team, RoboPenguins, while the freshman and sophomores formed JV team, RoboQuakers. Both teams are participants of the 2011 MATE-ROV competition.

After one solid year of robotics, the Upper School program has already created two teams and brought home two trophies. Hopefully in the coming years, Sidwell Upper School will enter in annual competitions and continue to succeed.