While puzzling together nuts and bolts and perusing over eye-boggling computer codes may not typify the lunchtime preoccupations of a high school student, such precisely portrays the commitments of a dozen young and vivacious Rocket scientists at Richard Montgomery. For the past three years, any passerby across the tech lab during lunch period could pick up on the incessant deliberations of engineers and programmers at work. Indeed, it is this grit, coupled with the myriad of hand-demand talents that propelled the RM Robotics team, now in its tenth year, to a stellar finish at the First Tech Challenge Super-East Competition and landed them a ticket to the World Championships, two unprecedented feats in the history of Montgomery County.
The team imaginatively coined themselves “5421 RM-ed and Dangerous” and named their feisty warrior SheRMan, who can pick up phone-sized plastic cubes, shoot hoops, and spin a crank to raise a flag. After a summer spent in gathering materials and designing wirings, RM-ed and Dangerous, now comprised of students from all four grades, poured in an average of thirty hours a week to make their visions a fruition.
Earlier this year, the team had already garnered the impressive title of being ‘Super East Regional” qualifiers. To come this far, RM-ed and Dangerous clinched three awards and earned a total score outracing all other teams at the Maryland State Championships. Less than 1% of all robotics teams across the nation will receive an invitation to a super-regional tournament. Just last Saturday, April 5th, RM-ed and Dangerous produced another stunning victory that pushed them into the running for world champion—having scored an Inspire and a Design Award, the team is now headed to St. Louis for an international showdown.
However, competition is only part of the story. What truly unites and empowers RM-ed and Dangerous is their spirit of community. The weekend engagements of any team member often encompass facilitating robot-building workshops for children of limited means, offering advices to newborn FTC squads via Google hangouts, and staging exhibits at local fairs. From motivating toddlers to play with robots to organizing tournaments at the Universities of Shady Grove, RM-ed and Dangerous never shies from any calls by the public. Moreover, having noted the dearth of funding for math-and-science-related afterschool activities in MCPS, the team founded a county-wide student’s coalition to petition for such stipends. After conferences with legislators, ardent lobbying at public hearings, and collaboration with media outlets, RM-ed and Dangerous secured over fifty-thousand dollars in the 2014-2015 MCPS Board of Education Budget Proposal.
In an era when soaring criticisms against America’s sluggish math and science education rise in volume, our society is in critical need of young people like members of the RM Robotics Team to bridge the gaps. As RM-ed and Dangerous prepares their journey to St. Louis on April 24th to represent America, an endeavor that will cost at least $5000, it is our turn to fuel SheRMan’s motors. Help our future rocket scientists today at https://www.piggybackr.com/sasha_maldonado/ftc-team-5421-rm-ed-and-dangerous-help-us-get-to-worlds-fundraiser.