Robotics Team Sharing Know-how With Public

The NaviBots, Island Pacific Academy’s robotics team, is showing the community of West Oahu that building robots is a great way to learn, make new friends and have fun.

The students also want to educate students in the subjects of science, technology, engineering and math.

The team was established in 2010 when middle school students competed in their first BotBall competition, and it now includes high school students.


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NaviBots instructor and IPA teacher Melissa Handy introduces the team’s robot in a recent demonstration at Kapolei Library as part of an initiative to educate the community about robotics. The robot picks up and shoots foam basketballs into hoops. Photo courtesy Island Pacific Academy.

The 20 students on the IPA high school NaviBots team will compete in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) tournament March 22-24 at the UH Stan Sheriff Center. They have used the robot competing in the FIRST tournament to help educate others in the community.

Recently, the NaviBots held a public demonstration outreach at Kapolei Library and shared the process of designing and building robots. The youths explained the events in which they compete and conducted demonstrations of how the FIRST robot works.

“A lot of community members don’t realize how much Hawaii is involved in robotics,” said Melissa Handy, the NaviBots’ instructor and coach. “It’s a hands-on learning experience, and it gets kids engaged in real-world problems.”

Handy also believes robotics is important for students because it covers all of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) areas.

In addition to preparing for tournaments, the NaviBots also are helping with the Kapolei private school’s elementary robotics program, preparing younger students to join the team when they reach middle school.

To schedule a robotics demonstration, email IPA instructors Michelle Bradley and Handy at