Robotics team works in off-season

Girard High School Robocats team members Cheyenne Moore, 16, a junior, left, and Jordan Marsh, 14, freshman.

GIRARD — In assembly line fashion, each member of the Girard High School FIRST Robocats Robotics Team 379 had a job to do as 34 lawn mowers and one snow blower were brought to them Saturday morning for a thorough cleaning and oil change as part of an annual fundraiser.

For the past five years over Thanksgiving weekend, the robotics team has cleaned and winterized the lawn mowers for a minimal cost for local residents: $40 if the resident drops off the lawn mower or $45 if a team member picks up and delivers it.

Junior Alex Milne, 17, said cleaning the mowers and changing the oil provides hands-on learning as well as use of wrenches and other tools just as they do for building a robot for competitions next spring.

”We get to work around an engine with the mowers, which is a little different from the robot we build,” said Milne, whose task was to pressure wash each mower under a canopy outside.

”This gets everyone working together and helping each other to accomplish a goal just as we do with the robot,” Milne said.

The team, which has advanced to national robotics competition several times, will begin their new season in January when they are presented a new challenge for a robot they construct to do.

Asharaf Hadi, a Girard High School teacher and robotics co-advisor, was overseeing the lawnmower work at the rear of the high school with the event raising between $1,000 and $1,500 annually.

”They are learning real life skills they will be able to utilize the rest of their lives,” he said.

The students sharpen and balance the mower blades, check the oil, put in a full tank of gas and stabilizer and pressure wash the mowers.

Kasey Sheridan, 14, a freshman, said the event allows for ”valuable life lessons” of learning to fix a mower. Her task was checking in and out the mowers when customers arrived.

She said depending on what work needs done, work on a mower can take up to 25 minutes.

Scott Sharples, 18, a senior who has taken part in the event the past four years, said he has held different jobs each year, from cleaning and washing, putting in oil and running the registration table.

”We don’t worry about the weather. We get the work done. It has rained and snowed some years, some years it was really cold and other years warmer,” he said.

Ian Kenneally, 17, a junior, pushed the mowers from station to station before placing them in a long row outside on the sidewalk for owners to pick up.

By noon, more than half of the mowers were completed and waiting for pickup.