Robotics and Middle School students go together like peanut butter and jelly. Imagine an auditorium swarming with teams of students, their robots, and screaming fans ~ this is the competition level of FIRST Robotics. Over the last 4 months, five middle school teams from Kalamazoo County have been designing, building and programming their robots to compete against 203 Michigan teams in regional qualifier competitions. 64 of those teams then qualified to compete at the State level last week. One of those Kalamazoo teams has qualified to move up to the Super Regionals in Iowa where they will be competing with high school teams from the northern United States.
Pictured above are team members from 2 teams: Special Air Service (SAS) and The Screaming Eagles, along with their sponsor Herb Brinn, who was voted Mentor of the Year. These 2 local teams are sponsored by Stryker Corporation and Kalamazoo RESA, among other sponsors. SAS won the Inspire Award, the most prestigious award for the best all-around team, at the Allendale Qualifier, and the Think Award at the West Michigan Qualifier. They were also on the winning alliance in Allendale. SAS and The Screaming Eagles partnered at West Michigan to make it all the way to the finals.
SAS finished 2nd in their division with Screaming Eagles finishing 6th. The two teams created an alliance with one other team and competed hard, losing in the finals with one of the highest scores of the day. SAS also won the Think Award with honorable mentions for both teams in various other awards. The performance at the State level qualified SAS to move on to Super Regionals in Iowa.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a worldwide initiative to inspire young people (elementary, middle and high school teams) to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills. In addition to the middle school teams, six high school teams from Kalamazoo County started their FIRST Robotics season in January and are preparing for competitions held in mid-March.
The Stryker Corporation/KRESA teams are open to all middle and high school students in Kalamazoo County. Check to see if your school is sponsoring a FIRST Robotics team, or if you’d like to join one of the Stryker Corporation/KRESA teams, please check out their website at www.strykeforce.org.
More information on the middle school competition can be found here. More information on the high school competition can be found here. Watch for the new movie SPARE PARTS about an underdog FIRST team that goes up against an MIT team. The movie was released nationwide last Friday.