16, is part of a team of three representing Mississippi in the VEX Robotics World Championship, where they will face teams from all over the world.
Martin is a sophomore at New Hope High School, but because he was homeschooled before, it is his first year as a Trojan. This is also his first year on one of New Hope robotics teams, where he competes alongside teammates John Beatty and Trevor Davis.
“I started in October (2021). I tried out, and once I got on the team, I wasn’t really thinking I was going to be any good at it. I didn’t really know what it was, ”Martin said. “I didn’t really have anything to do after school, so I thought I would give it a shot. (It) turned out that just slowly I started to enjoy it more and more, and now I love it. This is the first time I’ve ever done it, so it’s kind of shocking that we did so well. ”
The New Hope robotics program is not limited to just children from New Hope High. Because the team is an after school program, any child who lives in the New Hope area that is in ninth through 12th grade can participate in the high school level team. It functions thanks to adult volunteers, including Robotics coach Susanna Oglesby, a STEM teacher at New Hope High. Oglesby got involved because of her son, and she said the family atmosphere is what helps the team thrive.
“We invite all parents to be involved. We love parents and grandparents, ”Oglesby said. “In this program, we feel like it’s important that parents are involved too. I feel like if you start at home, you can do anything, and if your parents or grandparents are involved, it makes the kids especially happy. ”
Martin and his family are no exception. His parents, Megan and Chris Martin, have been supporting him since he began in October, and even his siblings have been excited about their eldest brother’s accomplishments.
“I definitely got the way my mind works and thinks about mechanisms and whatnot from my dad,” Aiden said. “There are multiple times that I’d be working on something and couldn’t figure it out. I’d be stopped for a week on it, and then when my dad had some off time, he’d come in here to help me figure it out. I love when that happens because I love working with my dad and he’s really good at stuff like this. My mom has been taking me back and forth, and I have four siblings at home so that’s not easy. … My brother has taken an interest in robotics and he loves to see what I bring home. He’ll start next year on the middle school team, which is pretty cool. ”
With robotics, there are many ways to keep the mind challenged. It combines critical thinking skills, science, mathematics, and hand-eye coordination when operating, but Aiden’s favorite part is problem solving.
“As I just kept building and trying new things, it really piqued my interest because I’ve always enjoyed building things and trying to figure out mechanisms,” Martin said. “I like trial and error and problem solving, so anytime something doesn’t work, I enjoy trying to figure out how to fix it. That’s what I find joy in. ”
With his team and their robot, Johnny 5 3.0, named after the robot from the “Short Circuit” movies because of the team members ’parents, the three are ready to be one of the seven teams that represent Mississippi. In fact, when the New Hope teams went to compete in the state competitions, the three New Hope teams beat out 44 teams just from the Mississippi Gulf Coast alone, teams that have robotics classes and programs at their schools.
“We don’t have that many teams in the northern part. The game is on the coast, there are over 44 teams. We only have six; I have three high and three middle, ”Oglesby said. “Once they do local and win a tournament, then you qualify to go to state, and they only take 24 spots. So just the coast of Mississippi has 44. We had three to compete against all of them. We really were very proud that when our students qualified for state, they had to compete against all of the best from the coast – the best from the top. Then we won the state tournament and we also won the robotics skills in programming. ”
All three teams from New Hope that qualified for the state tournament will head to worlds along with two teams from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science and two teams from Ridgeland.
The VEX Robotics World Championship will be held in Dallas in early May.
“This isn’t my first time in Texas, but it’s my first time in Dallas. There’s a lot to be excited about just as far as being into robots, ”Aiden said. “I mean, seeing all the different robots that people can build and all the crazy ideas people come up with, I’m super excited about that – and all the different cultures and different types of people that will be there. I think that’ll be really interesting. ”