By Katrina Stroud
Paul Ambler, the lead mentor of the Londonderry High School Robotics Team 1058 for the past 4 years, is looking for more students to join the team. Over the course of the pandemic, the robotics team has sadly lost 25 to 30 potential students to join, with only 5 remaining students who stayed for the entire school year. Ambler and other adult mentors tried conducting zoom meetings and teach kids about engineering, but many had lost interest and struggled to focus online. Now that students are studying in-person again this year, he and the other members are hoping that the team will bounce back up again.
They’re already off to a good start, as the eighth graders from the FIRST LEGO League, a program sponsored by Team 1058, have turned freshman this year and have joined the high school team. Recently, the current team members and other mentors have tried selling cotton candy and hotdogs to raise money and give away flyers to inform parents and students. Sadly enough, only two people contacted them after the event and the mentors really wanted parents to learn what their kid could aspire to. As mentor and engineering manager, Ambler teaches software programs, electronics, machinery, welding, kinematics engineering, and fabrication techniques. “One of the main differences with our team is that the mentors don’t really do the tasks. We really get the students involved and then let them, in some cases, make their own mistakes,” said Ambler. Students have also received $1,000 to full-tuition scholarships, for all of the STEM research they’ve conducted and the skills they can apply in college. According the Ambler, the parents, sort of forget the fields of technology their kids could learn for a real-life job. For example, Brandon Zalinsky, a Londonderry high school and Team 1058 alumni, continued designing robots and participated in BattleBots competitions for the past two years. He continues his work in Hudson, New Hampshire.
This weekend, Team 1058 is planning an event with FIRST Robotics, as FIRST Robotics is partnering with the New Hampshire Air Show. Ambler and the other mentors have sent emails and signup sheets to parents and students, but unfortunately, only a handful of people have signed up. Ambler wishes the vaccination rate was higher in New Hampshire, because he predicts that’s what keeping parents from letting their kids attend great events like these, as many still showed interest. In the meantime, the mentors are planning on teaching their students CAD software and basic navigation techniques this semester. They want their students to train vigorously, in preparation for the spring semester as they hope competitions and other robotics events will reopen.
If you’re a parent or student interested in joining Team 1058, you can find them on their website, team1058.com or email them at email@example.com. Team 1058 offers programs for kids of all ages in the Londonderry School district, so don’t be afraid to sign up!