Articles by Jim Babb
More students in far flung rural districts and in urban schools serving disadvantaged communities are getting a chance to gain hands-on experience building tech skills, teamwork and problem solving thanks to Virginia’s fast-growing FIRST Tech Challenge program.
Speaking from the student perspective, two Richmond area high school juniors have called on Virginia lawmakers to expand opportunities for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiatives in underserved communities.
With team names like “The Loose Screws,” “Robo Warriors” and “Geeks in Just Their Underpants,” it was a safe bet the FIRST Tech Challenge Virginia Championship would not be your average scholastic event. True to form, the daylong robotics tournament in Richmond March 1st mixed equal parts technical ingenuity, competitive spirit and uncanny humor.
December marks the beginning of competition in this year’s FIRST Tech Challenge, with qualifying matches scheduled across Virginia in the coming weeks. More than 140 teams statewide now participate in the fast-growing FTC robotics program.
Eight year old Neha Bandaru made the trip with her mom from Northern Virginia to Richmond…to test drive robots. “It’s amazing what all these robots can do,” smiled the third-grade student. “I don’t think it makes a difference how old you are or whether you’re a girl or a boy,” said Neha. “When I grow up, I want to make a robot that’s huge and use a lot of technology, and then show it to kids.”