Three Southern Virginia FRC teams competed at the World Championships held in Detroit, Michigan in April 2018. The three teams were the STAGS, the MADawgs, and the Cometbots.
Originally published by The Martinsville Bulletin / April 19, 2018
MARTINSVILLE — Two local robotics teams received some help on Wednesday in funding their trip to the world championship.
A representative of Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp. on Wednesday ceremonially presented checks totaling $15,000 to the Piedmont Governor’s School STAGS, Martinsville High School MADawgs and Halifax County High School Cometbots robotics teams, which will be competing at the FRC (First Robotics Competition) world championship in Detroit later this month.
Lauren Mathena, director of economic development and community engagement for Mid-Atlantic Broadband (MBC), presented a check for $10,000 to the STAGS and checks for $2,500 each to the MADawgs and the Cometbots teams. She said MBC also is offering to match the fundraising efforts for the MADawgs and the Cometbots teams dollar for dollar up to $2,500 for each team.
“I hope all of you guys do awesome,” Mathena told members of the three teams during the ceremony Wednesday at a lab for New College Institute at 31 Fayette Street.
Robotics activities encourage students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields and that will help the economy grow, Mathena said.
Depending on where they are geographically located, teams that qualified for the world championship competition will compete either in Detroit (April 25-28) or Houston (April 18-21).
The team qualified with a top-10 finish after FIRST Chesapeake district play and have been named the 2018 MBC Challenge Cup champion. The MBC Challenge Cup is a competition that rewards superior performance for FIRST FRC robotics teams in Southern Virginia. The STAGS finished the highest of the 11 MBC-sponsored FRC robotics teams. In addition to $10,000, the STAGS gain possession of the MBC Challenge Cup trophy for one year.
The Piedmont Governor’s School STAGS are in their 15th season and are based in Martinsville. This season, the STAGS team has 18 student members from Magna Vista, Bassett and Martinsville high schools, and nine adult mentors. Brian Pace — director of Piedmont Governor’s School for Science, Mathematics, and Technology – is the lead mentor of the STAGS.
So far this season, STAGS achievements have included: district finalist (second place) and the Industrial Design Award at the Central Virginia district event; a district winner (first place) and received the Team Spirit Award at the Southwest Virginia district event; and the Imagery Award at the FIRST Chesapeake District Championship event that was held at the University of Maryland.
After the check-presentation ceremony Wednesday, several members of STAGS were asked how they feel about the team’s qualifying for the world championship.
Xavon Stanley said. “I think it shows that we are making progressive moves in encouraging the STEM fields in the Martinsville-Henry County,” said Xavon Stanley.
His teammate Samantha Edwards agreed.
“I’m extremely proud to be a part of this,” Edwards said. “Something that excels as much as this team does, i
t’s something that I’m not used to. We had creativity… We targeted all aspects of the game instead of just one.”
Alayna Williams said she was really excited and really proud of the team.
“I thought we were going to have to pay a lot of money ourselves or do a lot fund-raising,” Alayna said. Now the STAGS can focus on strategies and working on robotics, she added.
Brian Pace said it’s been a total team e
ffort for the STAGS.
“I’ve always stressed that everybody has a job and everybody has to do their job,” he said.
He added, “You have to know your opponents. We’ve done a lot of scouting.”
Success in the first tournament gave team members a lot of confidence, Pace said.
He said he thinks the STAGS, the MADawgs and Cometbots all can be competitive at the world championship and that it’s a proud time for Southside Virginia to have three teams going
to the world championship.
Pace said in addition to the $10,000 from MBC, the STAGS raised about $7,000 through fund-raisers, and Microsoft is providing $5,000 for each of the three teams.
Todd Cassell, head mentor of the Martinsville High School MADawgs, said in an interview: “I’m super excited about the opportunity we’ve been given. This is the first time in MADawgs history, in our nine-year history, we’ve been able to attend a world championship. So we’re super, super excited about going and representing Martinsville, trying to give it our best and try to bring back a world championship. I tell the team every single day, Why not us? Why not us? We can go there and (win) as easily as the other 400 teams competing. Why not the MADawgs from Martinsville? I’m really excited about it.”
Cassell added that the program has nearly doubled since last year, in terms of membership and the number of students.
That’s based not only on the success of the program itself, but what it means to the community and the students,” Cassell said. “It’s a family atmosphere. Students are learning real-world engineering. They can actually apply it in real life and see it. They can build a robot and see it work on a field. That’s huge.”
Students participating in the FRC program are challenged in multiple fields, such as electronics, programming, pneumatics, business/marketing. Each year, a new game is presented to the teams, giving these students the opportunity to create new solutions by becoming better thinkers and problem solvers. Teams have six weeks to design, build, code, and test a robot that executes the task that was presented to them for competition.
MBC has invested more than $350,000 in support of FIRST FRC robotics programs since 2012 to help meet the work-force demands of current and future companies in the Southern Virginia region. If your high school is interested in forming an FRC robotics team, contact Lauren Mathena at firstname.lastname@example.org or (434) 570-1321.
Paul Collins reports for the Martinsville Bulletin and can be reached at email@example.com.
Photo credit: The Martinsville Bulletin
Originally published by The Gazette-Virginian / April 15, 2018
Team 977 is off to the FIRST World Championship in Detroit, Michigan.
In football, it’s the Super Bowl, in baseball, it’s the World Series, in basketball, it’s the Finals.
For the members of the FIRST Robotics Competition Team 977, it’s the World Championships in Detroit Michigan.
The students have had their eyes on Detroit since the beginning of the school year.
Working countless hours in outreach education for STEM, fundraising and ultimately designing, building and programming a robot to perform a specified set of tasks, their goal is just on the horizon.
In March, after collecting enough district points, the team participated in the FIRST Chesapeake District Championship at the University of Maryland, in College Park, Maryland.
After this event, the team thought the season was over until FIRST headquarters contacted the coach with an outstanding opportunity. The group has earned their invitation to the 2018 World Championship.
Competition will be held in Detroit, Michigan, April 25-28.
This is a huge honor and opportunity for the team who has contributed countless hours designing, building and programming a robot to perform a specified set of tasks.
This is also a huge expense that the school cannot afford on its own.
According to CTE Coordinator Debra Woltz, “We have begun a fundraising campaign but have a limited time frame and are also looking for contributions and sponsors.”
The budget includes rental of three SUVs at $1,991.70; gas allowance of $600; six hotel rooms at $3,008, registration for event at $5,000, shipping of robot at $1,000 and meal allowance at $3,600 for a total of $15,199.70.
Mid-Atlantic Broadband has committed to a $5,000 donation, and an additional $5,000 from one of their partners may be forthcoming, but it has not been confirmed yet.
“Would your organization be able to help with this endeavor?” Woltz asked.
For more information, call Debra Woltz at 434-575-2013 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contribute, checks can be made out to Halifax County High School Robotics and mailed to Halifax County High School, P.O. Box 310, South Boston, VA 24592.
The Cometbot Team #977 can be followed on their Facebook page where there will be a link to live coverage of all competitions.
“Please join me as we cheer on this team and wish them the best of luck,” Woltz said.
The Halifax County Middle School robotics program received a major boost yesterday as the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation presented a $5,500 check to the Halifax County Public Schools Education Foundation to go towards the popular student activity.
The gift will be used to replace Lego Robotics equipment that is currently outdated and for which replacement parts are no longer available.
Regan Priest, robotics instructor at the middle school, said the money will allow him to purchase new Lego Mindstorms Evolution 3 kits, directly benefiting an average of 100 eighth graders each year. Also helped: some 100 seventh graders who will receive robotics equipment currently in use, to be handed down from the eighth grade as the new kits become available.
Tad Deriso, president and CEO of Mid-Atlantic Broadband, and MBC vice president Greg Lytz were on hand yesterday for a check presentation to Foundation president Coleman Speece and treasurer Tay Bost, school superintendent Dr. Merle Herndon and HCMS principal Faye Bruce.
Deriso said his company strongly supports robotics programs in area schools. Just this week, said Deriso, he talked with a representative of a British firm who pointed to the importance of robotics programs in middle and high schools. The interest that robotics creates among students is very important to employers, the British representative told Deriso.
Sixth grade students at the middle school demonstrated that interest as robotics team members staged a brief competition as part of yesterday’s check presentation. There was even a challenge match between Deriso and Lytz. Lytz emerged the winner, receiving a big cheer from the youngsters on hand.
With big smiles on their faces, the students also cheered their instructor, Priest. Several of the middler schoolers announced that robotics class was definitely their favorite.
Herndon and Bruce expressed their appreciation for the donation, noting that with tight budgets, the MBC gift will make it possible for the school division to purchase equipment that otherwise it could not afford to provide to students. The high school robotics program, carried out at the STEM Center, was discontinued several years ago due to tight budget conditions.
Originally published SoVaNow.com / February 29, 2012
After six weeks of tinkering and testing, Skrappy 1413, version 2012, made his public debut in front of faculty, friends and family of the Bluestone High School FIRST Robotics Team.
Skrappy 1413 is a 4-1/2 foot tall, 120-pound, 4-wheeled, basket-shooting robot designed and built by the 19 members of Skrappy’s Crew. He has a starring role in the FIRST Robotics Competition taking place in Raleigh, N.C. at Dorton Arena, April 5-7.
This is Bluestone’s ninth year competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition. The team’s goal is to outperform their previous best, a fourth place finish.
The competition, which FIRST calls “the varsity Sport for the Mind,” challenges students to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks. All of this must be accomplished by following strict rules, using limited resources, and with time limits.
This year Skrappy’s crew, under the leadership of Tyler Wilkerson and Daniel Pittard, had six weeks to conceive, design, and construct a robot that could successfully shoot bawsketballs through hoops. Skrappy will show off his basketball prowess and the team’s skills by competing in a game called “Rebound Rumble,” where teams try to score as many times as possible during a 2 minute, 15 second match. The match ends with the mechanical marvels attempting to balance on bridges located at the middle of the competition field.
Marketing of Skrappy is the province of Morgan Pruett. This is her third year participating on the FIRST Robotics Team. One of Pruett’s jobs has been to prepare and submit an essay as part of the competition. Her team must also promote their robot using various marketing strategies she has developed, such as handing out pins and other promotional materials.
On the night of Skrappy’s debut, Pruett served as emcee, trumpeting Skrappy’s statistics (height, weight, and skills).
Forrest Goodwin is responsible for the team web site. Through it, the public can track Skrappy’s progress. Anyone interested in learning about Skrappy or his Crew can go to http://www.skrappy1413.org.
The mission of FIRST is “to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership,” according to the team statement.
That mission drew the interest of Verizon. The company contributed $12,000 this year to Bluestone’s FIRST Robotics Team. Steve Cronemeyer, Verizon’s Government Affairs Manager said, “Verizon is very interested in and supportive of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and was delighted to have the opportunity to help out.”
Betsy West, the co-coordinator, calls organizations like Verizon “angels.” Without them and the mentors who donate their time and talents to this competition, “we could not have a FIRST team.”