High school students from all around New York competed in the FIRST Robotics Regional Championship at the Javits Convention Center. FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” These students constructed robots and competed with each other in order to take the 1st place spot and secure their position at the FIRST Robotics National Championship in St. Louis. These events are meant to show students the importance of science and technology.
Joel Bianchi, the coach of the Harlem Knights, stated, “They struggle with seeing how some of the things they learn in school, like math or science, are really applicable or important.” By constructing the robots for this event, the students are able to see the practical uses of math and science in the real world. Julia Lapino, the captain of the Cyber Warriors, stated, “You see technology very often, like phones and stuff. We don’t think about it, but once you learn how to build it, you appreciate it so much more.”
This year’s competition, the students had to implement flying discs into their robots. The game was called “Ultimate Ascent” and robots had to shoot their discs as far as possible, and also climb up the pyramids on the field in order to score points for their teams. Students were given six weeks to construct their robots. During the competition, the students would work from pits in order to apply any last-minute changes and alterations to their robots before they’re sent off to battle.
The competition encouraged creativity. The students were met with a lot of problems while constructing their robots, and they had to think “outside of the box” in order to come up with solutions. During the event, there were little issues that plagued their robots, causing stress among the students, but in the end, it was a great learning experience. The FIRST program is working to encourage students to venture into careers related to technology and science. Some students who participate at these competitions are even offered internships with the corporate sponsors of the event.