Robotics team started at Central High School

Published 9:24 am Friday, October 23, 2015

Central High School now has a robotics team. The team, called the Portable Chargers, will begin competition in in January, said MeriPage Spencer, Lunenburg County Public Schools coordinator of parental involvement and the system’s spokesperson.

“It’s just going to push us into the 21st Century,” Spencer said. “We’re very excited about this. It’s an expensive endeavor, but one that we have to be involved with.”

Mark Bailey, a Central High School science teacher and the team’s coach, said the group has about 25 members so far.

“I do think that this is a great opportunity for these young members of Lunenburg County,” Bailey said. “Most are very strong academically, but most important, they are great kids.”

With the help of the Southside Virginia Regional Technology Consortium, the system secured a $6,000 grant through Mid-Atlantic Broadband. The grant allowed the system to set up the robotic team and covers registration for two competitions and some of its other startup expenses.

Now the county is looking for additional funds for the rest of the startup and travel.

Spencer said the system is applying for a grant. Meanwhile, Benchmark Community Bank has donated $1,000 to help with the other cost, and help match some of the remaining funds that are available for startup costs.

That is a big help, but more is needed, school officials said. Bailey said the team has two needs – volunteers and funds; but funds are the most pressing.

“We have no tools,” he said. “We have two district competitions, each three days –one in Blacksburg and the other in Hampton.”

One benefit for the system is it will get to utilize its 3D printers at the high school and middle school, Spencer said. These printers make three-directional, solid objects from a digital file through a process that lays down successive layers of material until the entire object is created.

School Superintendent Charles M. Berkley Jr. said this is an important step for the system and the county.

“This is the way we need to head in education because it’s going to be a growing (activity) in our country,” he said. “When companies looking at the community as a possible destination come calling, one of the things they ask is if we have robotics.”