Griffin Chlopek, Senior


Photo by Liv Frey

What activities are you involved in?

Point Tutor, did robotics since freshman year (with some mixed success), I’m a part of Spanish Honor Society. NHS. 

Why robotics?

I was interested in engineering. I wanted to sort of see if I wanted to do that as a career, so a good way to do that would have been to do it as an activity. Practice doing the design work, building stuff, learning how to work in a team, manage all the complexities of dealing with people in the team, leading it, delegating tasks, for sure. 

What is your best memory with robotics?

Probably my first competition. That competition, well, we did terribly. We started with a design right? Borrowed ideas we could find online from other teams from the past and used that to create a drive train, created a little spinny thing that shoots discs and realized it didn’t work all that well. So we refined it, spent time working on it, trying to line stuff, making it more reliable, repairing it and fixing its issues. 

What is the biggest lesson you learned from robotics? 

Time management and motivation can get you a long way on its own, honestly, and if you lack that, it can cause many issues. You need a reason to apply yourself and schedule your activities without burning yourself out. 

What is your best tutoring memory? 

Any time I am tutoring algebra. Sometimes you get students who come in who don’t care about the math, because they are doing it to get a grade, right? Because they have to get the grade to get a good grade in the class, and get a good grade at the end of the year to do well in school, in order to get to college to make money, so that they don’t starve to death. Right? But it’s really encouraging when you can sort of bring out a bit of the fascination. 

If you were to go back in time to the first day of freshman year, what would you have done differently?

Well, first of all, I’d warn everyone that there would be a massive, global pandemic. I probably would have spent my time better during quarantine, not just sitting around and doing nothing like I did. Manage my time better. Maybe I would have tried to create some stuff on my own, and learn a few things on my own. I did a bit of that with my 3-D printer. But beyond that, not much. 

What was your favorite class that you ever took at North? 

Maybe geometry; I actually like math a lot more than I had in the past, because it sort of has a bit of intuition to it, working with the logic and getting to understand math more intuitively. That attitude helped me later on as well with Algebra and Calculus. Physics as well; that’s a fun class: Applying math and seeing how it’s applied to the real world; it’s also a class that combines intuition and math. I also liked my AP social studies classes. I have an interest in government and history. 

The SAT starts tomorrow. What are your last minute-tips for the underclassmen?

Remember. This is a lot of stuff you’ve done before. The reading skills are something that you’ve worked with before. Math might be a bit more difficult; you might have gaps in your knowledge that you’ve developed over time, so try to review some of those concepts. 

Legend has it that you are the inventor of the famous “capybara octopus” that was going around for a while. Where did you get the idea for it?

In the College and Career Center, I remember having a conversation with someone about capybaras. Last year was the year I started making stuff on my 3-D printer and bringing it to school; makes school a bit more interesting, right? I found a picture of a “rocktopus,” with Dwayne the Rock Johnson as the top of the body with octopus legs. This idea, the “rocktopus,” combined with the capybara head, well I made it. I didn’t model it though; turns out someone had the idea before. I brought them to school and started selling them.

Photo of the “capybara octopus.”


Why did you continue selling it? 

More people wanted them, so I continued selling them. I have a lot of different types of material I can work with, ways to change the coloration, for example, which puts a bit more work into it so I can get a bit more money out of it. You can find some files online and I can model it in Fusion 360, a technical engineering software. 


What did you learn from selling these capybara octopuses?

I learned that I can create things. It’s nice to bring objects into the world and people like it; it’s fun and an interesting experience. They’re very cute. I’ll probably start to make fidget spinners. Those are coming back.

What’s your go-to breakfast food? 

You know, oatmeal is pretty good. Exciting answer, I know. It’s kind of a bowl of fiber and you’re just going to eat that and then you have plenty of sustenance and then you’re pooping. 

What are you looking forward to the most at college?

Maybe the chance to design things and create things, a good skill that you can help better the world with. Finding a good job doing that. Maybe I’ll go into education and teach engineering or make a more drastic change.