How the Sonic Squirrels Adapted to Distance Learning


Ollie Notbohm, Staff Writer

From the classroom to the stands, Glacier Peak’s robotics team, the Sonic Squirrels, spent lots of time in large groups in previous years. But as school went remote, the Sonic Squirrels had to adapt. Despite all obstacles, they’re still going strong.

While still holding meetings for all team members once a week, along with additional meetings for different groups within the team five days a week, these meetings are now being held virtually through Microsoft Teams. For about a month this year, the team was also holding some meetings in person with less than five members in attendance, all wearing masks, making sure to follow all COVID-19 safety guidelines. However, these meetings quickly stopped being held once COVID-19 cases started rising in Washington.

Not only has the team been meeting with each other virtually, but they’ve been meeting with other teams virtually as well. Every two weeks, something called virtual pits is held, where all the different FRC teams can meet up over Zoom and talk about how they’re doing through the pandemic, and also about regular robotics matters, such as CAD and funding.

If students are interested in seeing how virtual robotics meetings work, they can head over to the Sonic Squirrels YouTube channel: FRC 2930 Sonic Squirrels, where they’ve been posting livestreams of their programming meetings. Students can see how team members send code over to a team mentor, who still has the robot from last spring, and the mentor will run the code through the robot on stream. This is how team members are still able to program the robot from far away.

If students interested in seeing more from the team, you can also follow their Instagram page: @sonicsquirrels. However, if they really interested in robotics, many people in the team would urge students to join a robotics meeting and become part of the team. The Sonic Squirrels accepts new members at any point in the year. If students didn’t join the first week, but interested in joining now,  the window isn’t closed. The team is also always very dedicated to teaching new members anything that they don’t know, so it isn’t  required to have any prior knowledge about robotics in order to join. One of the biggest struggles that the team has faced this year is that they’ve found it very difficult to find new members during a pandemic. This year, almost half of the team members are seniors, so if they can’t find new members, then almost half of the team will be gone next year. Don’t be shy to give robotics a try if it seems interesting to you. The Sonic Squirrels would love to have more students on board.