The first of its kind Robotics Competition, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) has created a sort of passion amongst participants and mundane folks like never before. School children and their parents and teachers are very thrilled and want their wards and their students to win the ‘Chairman’s Award’.
Forty teams from all over New England are taking active part in the Granite State District Championship in the FIRST Robotics Competition this weekend, a qualifying event originally spearheaded by Segway inventor Dean Kamen to promote science, technology, and engineering and math concepts.
Six teams at a time took the field with their robots to compete at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Centre. And more than 100 participants surrounded the place with their unique robots.
“Everyone in this room can go professional,” said Carolina Forest High School teacher Nathan Ernest, “It’s not like most sports where a kid really excels and only one or two on the team will go to college. Every single kid in here can go on to engineering, can go on to do math, and can go on to build stuff, so that’s a really cool thing.”
This competition is not like the normal school or college competition. This competition is completely related robotics, which puts the intelligence of a person at work.
The teams competing come from five states: Iowa, Michigan, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota. They’ve been working for six weeks to design and build robots that can stack bins on top of one another, and top them with a recycling bin. Robots score points by stacking totes on scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers, and properly disposing of pool noodles, representing litter,” according to a news release.
The next and final New England district qualifying competition will be at Hartford High School on March 28 and 29. Winners will advance to the NE FIRST New England Championship at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts to be held from April 9 to 11. Winners at the regional level will move on to the FIRST World Competition April 22 to 25 in St. Louis, Missouri April 22 to 25.The public is invited to attend at no cost.
One squad with an unusual feature on its robot is Team 5143 Thunder Hawks, out of Grand Rapids High School. The Thunder Hawks use a forklift design driven by a gearbox to move totes up and down. The team is also known for its original noodle arm design — a singular noodle arm that is attached to the robot’s side. This allows the team to position the robot and put a pool noodle into a garbage can, scoring significant points.
[ Official website ]