STEM

Elementary School Robotics Teams Compete in Michigan

One of the first regional FIRST robotics competitions leading to the national championships in April will take place November 20 at Grandville High School in Grandville, MI. More than 3,500 students, parents, teachers and spectators will gather to watch nearly 70 robotics teams compete to move on to the statewide level.

Part of the nationwide FIRST project, whose mission is to inspire young people to be leaders in science and technology, the day will consist of two events, the "World Class" FIRST Lego League competition and the "Think Tank" Junior Lego League competition.

With the Lego League competition, 50 teams made up of fourth- through eighth-graders from around the Grand Rapids, MI, area who have developed their own robots will compete in challenges designed to test their skills and teamwork. At the same time, the teams will make research presentations sharing the work they have done on issues related to extreme weather. The teams will be judged by technical experts.

The junior competition is for 27 teams of students in grades K-3 guided by adult coaches. Their competition is a "Think Tank" showcase in which the teams have explored research, teamwork and construction. The teams have used LEGO bricks to construct models and developed posters to demonstrate the work they have done.

Awards will be announced at the end of the day and the winners will move on to the state championships in December. At that point, state representatives will be selected to go to the World FIRST championships scheduled April 22-25 in St. Louis, which will attract close to 850 teams with 25 to 30 students each and a total crowd of about 40,000.

The Grandville Public School District has been one of the leaders in educational robotics program ever since the high school fielded its first team in 1998. Today 44 teams involving more than 700 students participate in the program based at the district's Robotics & Engineering Center.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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