[Special Interview- Wen-Hung Tsai] Onto the World Stage- Robot Story

by Yan-Zhu Wang

Talking about high school life, what comes into your mind? Most people think of studying, taking exams, going to cram schools, and studying after school, etc. However, this kind of stereotype might be changed by a teacher by a group of students at National Nanke International Experimental High School (NNKIEH). Their daily life is their classroom setting, and they believe learning through solving problems can be “fantastic.”

Debut at FRC- Showcase the learning result

As a physics teacher, Wen-Hung Tsai recalls the process of putting together the team that participated in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). “In the beginning, I just wanted to find a chance for students to show their projects built in class,” said Tsai. In 2016, NNKIEH cooperated with projects from Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) to started elective courses related to AI robotics, where students learn structure design and programming through practice. For students to show the results of their learning in class, Tsai began to look up information about FRC, an international competition, and that set off their journey with adventure and experiences.

The flag of Team FRC6998

Not just robot development; more about storytelling

“We focused so much on developing our robots in the first place and did not realized that telling our own stories was as important,” Tsai recalled with a smile. In their first game in Australia in 2018, Tsai expressed that FRC is a team-oriented competition, where fundraising, marketing, and making use of the limited resources are all evaluation criteria. With that first experience, team members shared their own story the second time they participated in the game in 2019. After the presentation, they received a full house of applauses, winning not only the favor of the judges but also the Entrepreneurship Award.

Engineering notebook that records the games the team participated

Marching towards Hawaii- Everyone’s efforts count

From fundraising and preparation for the competition to marketing and building robots, the students on the team signed up for the Desk Group and the Field Group, according to their own expertise and interests. Tsai said, “Everyone has their own job, all contributing to TeamFRC6998, and mine is to stay by their side and provide guidance when needed.” Tsai leads the team by letting students make any decision on their own. In 2019, the team decided to take part in Hawaii Regional, so they could bring the game to the next level. After the fierce competition with participants from other countries, the team did not get frustrated. Instead, they learn from others and prepare for future competition by turning tumbling rock into a stepping stone.

Each team in the game has their card up their sleeve

Conclusion

This team from NNKIEH is the 6998th team to sign up for FRC. Tsai expressed that as long as the students could put what they have learned into practice and even develop a learning pattern on their own, it does not matter that the team is a late bloomer. That is Tsai’s original intention and it has never changed.

Tsai with the interviewer

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