Glenelg Country School's Robotics club, coached by Rose Young for the last eight years, will send three teams representing multiple grade levels to statewide competitions next month. Each team began their season in September and are now in the midst of competitions.
For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) robotics programs are available internationally to students in grades K-12. Glenelg Country School has had at least one team in the Upper School entered in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) level competition for more than eight consecutive years. Teams in the Maryland/DC region may enter two or three “qualifiers”, tournaments in which up to 36 teams vie for a slot at the State Championship on March 1 at UMBC.
Robotics programs challenge students to come up with creative solutions to a game challenge, build and test a robot and document their processes in an engineering notebook. Each season has a theme, and this year, FIRST has partnered with Lucas Films. This year’s challenge, Skystone, is for "humans and droid allies [to] work together to create a structure that pushes into the skies to represent their alliance. As part of the mission, teams overcome obstacles that stand in the path to build a superstructure of the future, topping it off with a crown of achievement—a final capstone to symbolize their reach into the sky, and dreams of a hopeful future."
At an FTC competition, alliances of two teams are randomly assigned for five, two-on-two matches which lead to an overall ranking. The top four teams choose partners for elimination matches before a winner is determined in best two out of three semi-finals and finals. Judged awards are also important in FTC, with teams recognized for design and innovation and work in the community to promote interest in STEAM.
The three teams from GCS will compete in the final qualifying tournaments on February 15-16. To move on to the state tournament, the teams will need a very strong performance among a competitive field. The Dragon Wagon team will go to Capitol Technology University on February 15 and the Gear Grinders and Dragonettes teams will compete on February 16 at Oakland Mills High School.
For more information and a details on this year’s challenge, Skystone, visit www.firstinspires.org
. For information on other local FIRST robotics events, visit www.firstinmaryland.org