Francis Parker’s Zero Robotics Team has made it to outer space.
The team – comprised of 10 sophomores, two juniors and two seniors – completed its best season in the annual Zero Robotics High School Tournament.
Preliminary rounds are conducted in virtual environments with the finalists earning a spot in the finals held aboard the International Space Station.
Parker has entered teams in every competition for the past several years. But this was the first time that the Parker students reached the finals, allowing them to write code to program miniature satellites called SPHERES (an acronym for Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites) into performing various tasks aboard the International Space Station.
“I’m very proud of the job our team did this year. It’s kind of awesome,” said team advisor Michael Maunu who also teaches Upper School mathematics and AP computer science at Parker.“We have a very strong computer programming curriculum with a lot of offerings that other schools don’t have, and our performance at the Zero Robotics competition is just one more validation of that fact.”
The Parker Zero Robotics team (also named Team 2485) placed fifth in the nation – and 12th in the world – during the first phase of the competition. At the end of the second phase, Parker was selected to join an alliance that included teams from Charlottesville, Virginia, and Piraeus, Greece. That sent the team to the International Space Station for the Jan. 25 final round, which was refereed by astronauts aboard the space craft.
Among 27 alliances worldwide, Parker’s finished in fourth place.
“The competition challenges students to become problem solvers in whatever they do while also perhaps planting the seeds of preparing the next generation of scientists and engineers,” Maunu said.
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