Panther Robotics team members recently received the Altice Future Innovator Award runner up.

Panther Robotics has been busy the past few months, serving the community and being involved in projects.

At the beginning of the COVID shutdown, the team got right to work. One of the team’s projects has been making face shields and mask ear savers for medical staff, first responders and emergency workers. The team partnered with a 3D printing group, PPE for MC, a group of Paola, Louisburg, and Osawatomie libraries, Osawatomie and Paola schools, and other Miami County makers.

All together the group made 1,650 face shields and 1,250 ear savers. Panther Robotics made 700 of those face shields. The team used its single 3D printer for the majority of those masks. One of the team members, Mitchell Ball, was involved in making protective face shields.

“It was challenging at the beginning, but toward the end it got easy,” Ball said. “It made me feel good to help out in the community.”

Team 1108 has also gotten some publicity around the Kansas City Metro area. One of the team mentors, Nelson Green, was interviewed by the KMBZ 98.1 radio station regarding the team’s involvement in the production of PPE equipment for first responders.

“Keeping students involved during a pandemic, took some creative thinking,” Nelson said.

The team was really excited to get that publicity and recognition.

In addition to helping out the community, the team also applied for and received the Altice Future Innovator Award runner up. The award was started by Altice due to the coronavirus shutdown. The award was created to give robotics teams the opportunity to compete in something, even though they were not able to go to competitions. It also gave the teams the ability to work on a project as a team while safely social distancing.

Altice has always supported FIRST teams around the country, and this award gave them the ability to do even more. Candace Kirkendoll, community engagement specialist for Altice, constantly reaches out to team 1108 and does what she can to keep involved with the team. The team really appreciates all Candace has done for the team and the help she has given along with Altice’s sponsorship of the team.

The pandemic has changed the look of team 1108’s upcoming season and school year. The team plans to continue its community involvement, and members are currently making hands-free hand sanitizer stations for the local elementary schools.

Team 1108 is also open and encouraging new members from the county to join and get involved with the team. The team currently meets every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Contact the team via social media for more information about the team and meetings.

The team members may not be super sure what is going to happen, or how, but they are prepared and excited for the future.

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