Sonoma County Office of Education

Technology for Learners

Robotics at Maria Carrillo High- Student Voice in Action

Author: Rick Phelan
Published: 11.22.15

Carrillo Team
Carrillo Team

Maria Carrillo High School’s 2016 robotics team was founded through student voice and initiative. John Mayer and Allison Page two Maria Carrillo High School (MCHS) students shared a common  interest in robotics. When they entered MCHS they found a great selection of electives but  were disappointed because the school did not have a robotics team. Mayer had been involved in Lego Robotics since he was in fifth grade at Santa Rosa Accelerated Charter School. Experiences there had taken him to the Sonoma County Robotics Challenge and First Lego League.  Page had moved to Santa Rosa from the South Bay. She had been involved with a successful FIRST robotics team known as the “Space Cookies” and wanted to continue her robotics learning at MCHS. Mayer and Page worked together rallying 30 other MCHS students who were also interested in robotics.  Together they formed a FIRST robotics team unofficially representing MCHS last year.  The team took on the name, “Carrillo Cybernetics.”

Year One

Mayer describes their first year as, “a learning experience for everyone.”  With parent support, students were able to raise $6000 to cover materials and entry fees for the Carrillo Cybernetics team.  He states, “MCHS  wasn't able to provide us with much, so we built our robot in a garage in Kenwood.” The team spent six weeks designing and building their robot entry for FIRST. It went through several iterations. The week before the competition, team members were up every night until midnight making adjustments, adding enhancements and tweaking their robot entry. Mayer states, “It  was all worth it when we got to competition...we were in the top 15 for the first half of the competition. In the end, we placed 42nd out of 58 teams and won the Rookie Inspiration Award.” Team outcomes for the year included:

  • experience with the high school FIRST competition
  • skills in engineering, design and programming
  • how to work together as a team

 Year Two

Now in its second year,  Carrillo Cybernetics is recognized as a school club.  MCHS officials have found classroom space for the team’s after school meetings and faculty member Dennis Jenkins is their advisor.  MCHS is providing storage space for team equipment and materials. Members of Carrillo Cybernetics are working to raise $5000 to support the 2016 entry. At this writing, they had just received a $2,000 grant and were able to register with FIRST for the 2016 event. Mayer says the team is learning CAD to try to avoid some of their ‘2015 design issues.’  He also describes a programming class that has been opened to Carrillo students taught by one of the Cybernetics team members. Official details about the 2016 FIRST event will be unveiled on January 9. At that point the 30 team members will focus energies on FIRST demands creating their robot entry for the April regional event at San Jose State University. In addition to this, the Carrillo Cybernetics team recognizes the importance of community service.  Team members are mentoring three grade 4-8 First Lego League teams and one Sonoma County Robotics Challenge Team. The Carrillo Cybernetics is planning to bring their 2016 robot to the May 7 Sonoma Robotics Challenge where demonstrations are planned to inspire students in grades 4-8.

The community is invited to support Carrillo Cybernetics in their efforts to compete in the 2016 FIRST Competition by enjoying pizza at the Pieology Pizzeria on the first Tuesday of every month. 15% of  Pieology patronage on these days is donated to Carillo Cybernetics. Pieology Pizzeria is located at 2280 Mendocino Avenue in Santa Rosa. Click here for more information on this fundraising effort.

Related Information-

Robotics Programs at Cotati-Rohnert Park’s Technology High School

Healdsburg High School’s Computer Science Program

 Creating a New Generation of Innovators: FIRST Robotics Program founded by Dean Kamen

Sonoma County Robotics Challenge


Blog: Technology for Learners