POSTED ON: Saturday, January 21, 2017 8:00 AM by Angela Moran
On Jan 21-22, the U.S. Naval Academy was the site of a regional FIRST Tech Challenge Tournament and FIRST LEGO League Jr Expos. Hundreds of elementary, middle, and high-school students participated. About 60 teams of middle and high-school students from Maryland, District of Columbia, West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey competed in the FIRST Tech Challenge tournaments. Nineteen teams (grades K-4) from across Maryland participated in the Expos, and there was a scrimmage for 6 FIRST LEGO League teams from local schools, grades 4-8.
These tournaments are coordinated by Maryland non-profit STEMaction, Inc., and staffed by volunteers. This was the sixth year that USNA STEM Center midshipmen have supported this exciting event. Midshipmen from the STEM Center provided support, acting as presentation judges, game referees, and even play-by-play announcers. MIDN 3/C Andrew Lee headed up the team of midshipmen volunteers from the STEM Center. He recruited volunteer support from the brigade, and commented on his participation and midshipmen involvement. "FIRST Tech Challenge and similar robotics events are a powerful way we can motivate young students and show them the possibilities that STEM fields provide. Personally, I wish I had gotten involved with these types of programs when I was younger as they would have kindled my love of engineering sooner. Midshipmen serve in a unique role within STEM outreach events. Being closer in age, midshipmen are able to more smoothly connect with children than teachers or professors. However, as members of the military and often as STEM majors themselves, midshipmen are able to show kids where scientific passion can take them."
MIDN 4/C Duncan Farrant participated in the FIRST program in grades 8-12: “FRC exposed me to work in a team setting and taught me valuable leadership roles and communication… during my junior year, I was the Team Captain, responsible for leading discussion, coordinating sub-teams, and representing our FRC Team. Being Team Captain forced me to break from my comfort zone and assume a higher standard of professionalism, something that is absolutely essential to the Naval Academy. In my senior year, I acted as an adviser to the Team Captain and mentor to new members. Because of the leadership opportunities FIRST provided, I was able to submit a more competitive application to the U.S. Naval Academy. Being a non-athlete, it was important that I proved my leadership experiences in other categories. Now that I am here, things I learned in FRC still give me an edge: time management, cooperation, working effectively under pressure, and communicating ideas.”