Pinellas robotics team builds more than machines

Bobby Lewis profiles some local kids putting their smarts to good use.

Three years ago, in the summer of 2013, Henry Sloan moved to Tarpon Springs from New Jersey.

“I knew no one here. I felt out of place,” the East Lake High School senior said. “Team 79 Krunch gave me a home.”

That team, 79 Krunch, is a group of over 60 students who gather after school a few times each week to build robots under the guidance of coach Taycora Canfield.

“(They are) much smarter than me,” she said with a chuckle while watching her students put their robot through a training course on Wednesday. “Extremely, extremely smart in more ways than academics. They’re just good, good students.”

The group is set to show off its robot creations at ROBOTICON at the University of South Florida SunDome on  Oct.  8 and 9. They will be competing in robotics competitions against kids from all over the world, as far away as China.

They have built incredible machines like most of their peers cannot but the most impressive thing 79 Krunch has built is camaraderie and teamwork.

“You never feel uncomfortable or left out,” said junior Allie Ghisson. “They always find a way to include you in everything whether you’re a first year member who has never held a power tool or you’re someone who has a whole setup in your garage. There is always something for you to learn.”

Especially for Sloan.

“It’s possibly the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me,” he said.

The ROBOTICON event is free to the public. 


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