For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology or FIRST was founded back in 1989 by Dean Kamen. It is an amazing organization that gives kids an opportunity not only to advance their skills in science and technology but to learn to work together as a team, become leaders, improve self-confidence and so much more.
My husband, Bob, has volunteered to help out with their Buckeye Regional robotics competition for several years. This year we got home from Florida a little too late for him to participate but he wanted to see what was going on so we ventured down to the Wolstein Center on the Cleveland State campus last weekend to check it out. It was my first glimpse of things in person and I found it very interesting.
Each year in January, teams are given the requirements for their robot's functions. This year they had to be able to pick up discs that were actually gears and put them on a pulley that sent them to a person who assembled them to start their "rocket ship" propellers moving.
Another activity was to shoot nerf balls into a funnel that I think was to add fuel. The last minute of the round was a mad dash to a rope that the robot had to climb to hop on board the rocket or space ship before it took off. The alliance team (made up of three individual teams) who got the most points won.It became obvious that the gears and the climb got the most points because we didn't see but one robot who was very good at shooting the nerf balls.
It was amazing to think about all the components that went into making the robot function to fulfill all the requirements. Not only did the mechanics have to work but their was a thirty second time where the robot worked off of a pre-programmed function. After that the kids controlled the robots.
We stopped down to the pit area where booths were set up for each team to work on last minute details and adjustments. Another area was the practice field where certain components of the competition were set up for teams to practice on. It was fun to see the robots up close and watch as the kids and their mentors worked to solve problems and improve efficiency.
All in all an inspiring event. It gives you confidence for the future.