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Help the Lunatecs Robotics Team Get to Worlds!

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It's April 6, 2024, at the FMA District Competition at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA. In a bustling auditorium, people wave signs and cheer. Bleachers packed with team members and fans wearing their favorite team's colors, waving flags, and shaking pom-poms to show their enthusiasm. The game requires teamwork, coordination, balance, and endurance. Matches are short, lasting only two and a half minutes, but the competition lasts a rigorous three full days, with each team competing in multiple matches. Standing outside the gymnasium, it's hard to believe all this excitement is over a robotics match. Yet, to the high school students who compete and the coaches, mentors, and parents who support them, robotics is a big deal. FIRST, a global nonprofit robotics community that seeks to inspire young people, plays a massive role in STEM education throughout South Jersey. Hundreds of local students compete in robotics leagues tailored to their age levels to inspire a pursuit of careers that reflect the education and values they acquire through their experience competing. South Jersey Robotics (SJR) is a local nonprofit that partners with FIRST and embodies the goals and spirit of FIRST at a grassroots level.

Team 316, The LUNATECS, an SJR team based in Salem County, is celebrating some exciting results so far in their 26th season. At their first competition in Tabernacle, NJ, they received the FIRST Impact Award. They were recognized as the FIRST Robotics Challenge team, which "Best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the mission of FIRST." In addition to this recognition, the team and robot were pushed to their top potential to win the event with teams 365, Miracle Workerz, and 1257 Parallel Universe.
There's much more to this team than working with bots. At the Bensalem FIRST Mid-Atlantic Qualifier, the team won the Engineering Inspiration Award for their passion, knowledge, and commitment to inspiring others to respect Science and Technology. The team placed fourteenth overall with their alliance team and qualified for the District Championships at Lehigh University.
In addition to spending a great deal of time in the lab building, programming, and practicing with their robot, these high schoolers are active in the community, facilitating STEM education and helping those in need.
During the Summer and Fall of 2023, the LUNATECS honed their leadership skills and shared their knowledge and experience by volunteering at summer camps and mentoring younger robotics teams. Each November they lead other SJR teams in hosting the Robot Run and Steamfest, the largest STEM event in South Jersey. At this event, teams are joined by a local bomb squad robot and many colleges to show the myriad possibilities for a future career in STEM. By mentoring younger robotics teams in the area and helping to start new teams, the LUNATECS are passing their experience and enthusiasm on to the next generation of robotics students.
However, it is about more than just education and mentoring for this team. In the off-season, the LUNATECS use the equipment in their lab and the skills they have acquired to help improve the lives of physically challenged individuals. In 2019 and 2020, the LUNATECS worked with the Adaptive Diving Association, designing, fabricating, and donating swim fins to spinal cord injury victims so they could scuba dive and be free from gravity's confines and manufactured a mold that produced 100 adult swim fins. The Adaptive Diving Association appreciated the swim fins and even asked the LUNATECS to create a pediatric size, which they completed and will be used by the Delaware Maryland Easterseals for over 600 campers with special needs at Respite Camp Fairlee Manor in June!
It's exciting to report that at the Lehigh University District Championship, this team was recognized at the FIRST Mid-Atlantic Level and won the Impact Award again! The judges loved to hear how a small group of 22 students is making huge strides to bring STEM to the community via outreach initiatives while using their engineering skills to help others in need.
Before and during the season, members of the LUNATECS work hard to raise the funds necessary for their program. However, they estimate that it will cost $2,000 per student to go to the FIRST World Championships in Houston, Texas. As a community-based team, they receive no school funding and rely solely on grants, sponsorships, and individual donations. They have set up a GoFundMe account to help with some of these costs. Donations of all sizes are greatly appreciated.

Keep an eye on this account as we work to keep our gracious sponsors up to date on the team's performance in Houston.

Thank you!


  • Anonymous
    • $100 
    • 1 mo
  • Patrick Boyle
    • $100 
    • 1 mo
  • Anonymous
    • $350 
    • 1 mo
  • Christie Koziol
    • $200 
    • 1 mo
  • Anonymous
    • $150 
    • 1 mo


Noah Halstead
Salem, NJ
South Jersey Robotics
Registered nonprofit
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