The First Bots of Independence team, which includes students from Truman, William Chrisman and Van Horn high schools, gave a robot demonstration Saturday at a neighborood party in western Independence.

Leo Fikes enjoys sharing with the community what he and his fellow teammates on First Bots of Independence have done during the last six months to build a robot.


“By attending community events, it raises awareness for the team in the Independence area,” said the senior at Van Horn High School. “Whenever we hear of an event, we like to go to really show people what we have done and what we are capable of doing.”


The FBI team, which includes students from Truman, William Chrisman and Van Horn high schools, gave a robot demonstration Saturday at a neighbor block party in western Independence. The block party, organized partially by Kathy Pickering, is part of the Independence Police Department’s Neighborhood Watch program. The prevention program encourages the partnership between the police and community. Through the program, neighbors watch out for other neighbors while also determining specific needs or problems to share with local police.


The Independence Police Department first became involved with the Neighborhood Watch Program in 1996. There are 44 registered groups in Independence, representing more than 3,400 homes.


“It’s hard to do something to people you know,” Pickering said. “I think it makes us all feel safer and has really made a huge difference in our neighborhood. It is nice to know everyone on your block.”


Pickering said each year during the annual block party, she tries to add something new, highlighting an area group or activity. She said when she learned of FBI, she thought it would be great to bring the students out to see what their robot can do.


“I like to plan for different, unusual things from the city,” she said. “This seemed like a great idea to really recognize what our area youth are doing.”


The robot, which took the students six weeks to design and build, can move back and forward as well as side to side and is designed to kick a soccer ball. The completed robot is then entered into FIRST robotics competitions during February and March, including a regional competition in Kansas City.


Becky Robinson, a junior at William Chrisman, said she believes what makes their team unique is that the entire robot, from start to finish, is student-led and student-built.


“There are some teams out there where the students design the robot, but then professional engineers build it,” she said. “Ours is completely student-designed and student-built. There is not a single thing professional about it. We have fun doing it, which is what is important.”


Brystal Smith, a junior at William Chrisman, said she thinks it is “awesome” that the FBI team was able to attend the block party. She said showing off their robot is “a lot of fun.”


“This is a big family group and has really given me something to look forward to in school,” she said. “The team has motivated me to do better in school. I have also learned that when something doesn’t work, you find another way. It is important not to give up when something happens and to always aim high.”