Local Students Compete in Worldwide Robotics Championship
Students from Wissahickon High School converge in St. Louis to vie for prestigious science and technology awards.
More than 11,000 students from 29 countries are competing in a robotics championship this week in St. Louis that combines the excitement of sports with the rigors of science and technology.
The international competition, being held at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, is sponsored by a non-profit organization called For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST). Under strict rules and limited time and resources, teams build and program robots to perform tasks against competitors in a series of robotic games.
The Miss Daisy Team, consisting of students from Wissahickon High School, took part in the first round of qualifying matches Thursday. It is one of 352 teams competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). The FRC teams represent 8,800 students from five countries, including Australia, Canada, Israel, Mexico and the United States.
Evan Ostrow, a senior at Wissahickon High School has been on the Miss Daisy Team for four years. However, he said has been involved in robotics in one way or another since he was 5 years old because his dad Alan Estrow is the team’s coach.
“Seeing the product on the field is a great feeling,” he said at Thursday’s competition. “But it’s the people I’ve met along the way that have made the difference. I’ve made so many friends.”
Senior Kevin Buljeta, who’s also been on the team four years, agreed and said he enjoys helping other teams in the competitions.
“The reason I love this is because I can inspire others,” he said. “I help out other teams and the looks on their faces when you explain something just gives you a feeling of joy.”
The competition has four divisions – Archimedes, Curie, Galileo and Newton – all named in honor of history’s greatest scientists and mathematicians. Teams in each division compete against each other in several qualifying matches.
The winning teams then proceed to the final division called Einstein, which is the championship game. Qualifying matches for all teams will continue through Saturday morning. The championship matches begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
In addition to the robotics competition, the FIRST Championship event also includes the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) for high school students, which features smaller robots. The other two groups in the championship include the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) for elementary and middle-school students and the Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL) for 6- to 9-year-olds.
FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. The group designs programs to encourage students to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge and life skills.
More than $15 million will be awarded to winners in this year’s championship. For more information on FIRST, visit www.usfirst.org.
For more information on Team Daisy, visit www.team341.com.