RICHMOND, Va. – Hundreds of Virginia high school students are participating in the Virginia Regional FIRST Robotics Competition at the Siegel Center, over the March 20 -21 weekend.
It’s open and free to the public, and a good chance to check out the engineering wizardry of teams of youngsters with names like CircuiTree, Skrappy’s Zoo, Phantom Mentalist, The Junkyard Dogs, Triple Helix, and the RoboJackets.
Students, working in teams, have been designing and building for six-weeks, after the unveil of the FIRST Robotics Competition theme in January. Since then, students have taken on the real-world engineering challenges of raising funds, developing a team brand, and building and programming robots to perform prescribed task against their competitors.
The 2015 theme is a recycling-themed game called “Recycle Rush.” The objective is for the robots to score point by stacking totes on scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers, and properly disposing of pool noodles, which represent litter. Each match is two and a half minutes.
The 64 teams who entered received a kit of common parts to assist building the core systems of their robots. No instruction manuals were included though, and no two robots will be built or operated in exactly the same way.
Students work with hundreds of components to decide their own game strategy, and they design and fabricate a machine within tight specifications on size, weight and materials.
The winners get a chance to advance to the world championship in St. Louis.