Courtesy photo
                                Three Bellevue School District robotics teams after a competition in late March. From left: International School robotics team, Sammamish High School robotics team, and Interlake High School robotics team.

Courtesy photo Three Bellevue School District robotics teams after a competition in late March. From left: International School robotics team, Sammamish High School robotics team, and Interlake High School robotics team.

SHS Robototes compete in robotics district championship

The Robototes secured a spot in the world championships in Houston.

One robotics team in Bellevue has something to celebrate. Since 2014, Sammamish High School’s robotics team, the Robototes-team 2412 recently qualified for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition (FRC) PNW district championship.

Named after the school’s mascot, the Totems, or commonly shortened to “totes,” the team has participated in FRC since 2008.

The district championship was held April 3-6 at the Tacoma Convention Center.

Qualifying for the district championship requires teams to spend long hours building robots and participating in outreach events.

“As a team during build season, we meet after school from 3:30 p.m. to around 8 p.m., and on Saturdays from around 9 a.m.-noon, although these meeting times get later and later as build season progresses,” said Sammamish High School (SHS) sophomore Robototes student Gavin Smith. “On top of building a competition robot during build season, we participate in many outreach events, such as helping Odle Middle School’s VEX robotics team, and showing our robot at science fairs.”

At the district championships, the Robototes didn’t have much of a chance in moving on. Leonardo Ohata, a freshman on the team, said the team began to lose hope.

“Our alliances lost game after game. We started to lose hope. But, our individual robot scored a lot of points. After qualifications, we were surprised we even got chosen to play on an alliance,” he said.

Although the Robototes lost their games, they kept earning ranking points.

“The top 26 teams get to go to the world championships in Houston. Luckily for us, every award given out is worth five ranking points, but at district events awards are tripled in value,” Smith said. “Due to a couple team members talking to judges about how we made a digital model of our pit before we made it, and a digital model of our driver control board on top of just our robot, we won the Imagery Award.”

The team secured the 26th spot and will be going to the world championships in Houston, Texas. The Robototes were thrilled to learn they had made it to the world championships.

However, for these robotics students, it’s more than just building and robots and competitions.

It’s Smith’s second year on the team. He said being a part of Robototes has allowed him to meet a lot of fellow engineers right off the bat when he first started attending SHS as a freshman.

“Finding a new friend group when you switch schools is the most stressful part of the switch. Because of how open and welcoming the team was when I joined, I started the school year off with many friends who were very similar to me,” he said. “The following year, since I already had a pretty set friend group, I was able to help the incoming freshmen find their places on the team, and help them feel as welcome as I did when I first joined.”

Ohata agreed.

One of the most rewarding parts of being a Robotote is watching the team grow. When I joined the team last fall, no freshman knew anything about CAD and now all the freshmen have CAD design experience and have something in our new robot pit or on our robot that they can point to and proudly say, ‘I designed and made that part,’” he said.

To learn more about the Robototes, go online to To learn more about the district championships, go online to

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