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. Also very much in evidence: a brand of mutual respect that the FIRST program calls “gracious professionalism.”
“These kids are amazing,” says Carol Edelman, director of programs and outreach at VirginiaFIRST, the state affiliate of the international non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists. “You see it in the pit area where teams scramble to fix or tweak their robots between qualifying rounds. When a team needs help, other teams don’t hesitate to jump in and lend a hand.”
“Getting to go to the state championship is really big,” said Kathryn Waters, captain of “The Turtles,” team from the all-girls Chatham Hall School in Chatham, Virginia. The team came decked out in pink and blue tutus. “We wanted to show that girls in robotics can look ‘girly,’ too,” explained team member Rachel Neller.
The popularity of the FIRST Tech Challenge program has grown rapidly in recent years. More than 130 FTC Teams participated in Virginia during the 2013-14 season.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) sponsors a series of age-appropriate robotics contests to help build a culture that celebrates kids who excel in science, technology, engineering and technology – the so-called STEM subjects.
Forty eight teams from across Virginia converged on Richmond’s Arthur Ashe Center to compete in a game called FTC Block Party, which challenged them to build remote-controlled robots to scoop up plastic blocks, raise a flag and grapple onto an overhead bar for extra points.
At the FTC State Championship, the following teams qualified to compete in the FTC Eastern Super Regional tournament in York, Pennsylvania April 3-5, 2014.
Here are the Virginia FTC teams that qualified for the Super Regional:
Lord of the Bricks – community based team, Mechanicsville
Tuxedo Pandas – community based team, Christiansburg
Techie Tornados – Richlands H.S., Richlands
Nuts and Bolts – community based team, Centreville
Team Impact – US STEM Foundation, Haymarket
The Loose Screws – Western Albemarle H.S., Crozet
Brooke Point Robotics – Brooke Point H.S., Stafford
Robowiz – community based team, Fairfax
ED Too – Herndon H.S., Herndon
WWIFATM – GW Community School, Springfield
Crazy Bot – Flint Hill School, Oakton
ILightening Robotics – Battlefield H.S., Haymarket
Team Aperture – Ashburn Robotics, Ashburn
Congratulations to all!
Article by: Jim Babb, VirginiaFIRST
Photos by: Bill Sigafoos, VirginiaFIRST