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Robotics Tournament

Posted on: January 15, 2014 08:00 EST by Sarah Durkin

Hundreds of students gathered alongside their robots in Dahlgren Hall at the United States Naval Academy on January 11-12, 2014, for a regional FIRST robotics tournament. FIRST, a non-profit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen, uses robotics and exciting sports-like competitions to help students develop the skills needed to compete in the technology-driven global economy.

Over 500 students, on 50 teams from schools and robotics clubs around Maryland, as well as a Virginia and a Pennsylvania team, competed in the FIRST Tech Challenge Qualifiers. During the year, teams of middle and high school students build a remote-controlled robot using the LEGO MINDSTORMS™ controller and metal parts. At the competition, two-team alliances square off in successive two-and-a-half minute rounds combining autonomous and operator-controlled play. Each year's game is different, and teams must strategize, design and build their robots accordingly. 

Events were also held for elementary school students. About 100 K-3rd graders from the Annapolis area participated in the Junior FIRST LEGO League Expo, with 21 teams building LEGO models with moving parts. In addition, about 50 students in grades 4-8, on 8 teams, participated in a FIRST LEGO League scrimmage. The students had 8 weeks to strategize, design, build, program, test and refine a fully autonomous robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS™ technology.

The success of this event rested on the support of 68 midshipmen from the midshipmen STEM and NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) groups, who acted as facilitators and judges. “The Mids were extremely helpful and exhibited great attitudes working with the kids,” said Bill Duncan, Regional Director of Maryland FIRST.  As STEM majors themselves, the midshipmen also served as role models to inspire kids to pursue their interests in STEM. 

Event Photos

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