Everett High School science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students are taking part in an innovative and intense robotics competition that was founded by a renowned inventor and is supported by two U.S. Presidents and a Grammy award-winning musician.
The 21st FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) consists of more than 60,000 students from around the world, all of whom will help design, build and operate a robot that shoots basketballs. Participating teams have only six weeks to prepare their machines for regional competitions, which will be held locally March 23-24 at the Agganis Arena on the campus of Boston University. Everett is entered in the competition as Team No. 3479.
“People don’t realize just how big the FIRST® Robotics Competition really is,” said Everett School Committee member Frank Parker, who serves as a non-technical mentor to the EHS FIRST® Robotics team. “We need to support these students as they prepare for this rigorous competition. It takes an incredible commitment of time, energy and patience to pull this off.”
Everett High School (EHS) science teacher Steve Blake and a team of four mentors, who offer advice and guidance in their particular areas of expertise, are helping the EHS FIRST® Robotics team construct its machine. The students work afterschool, often into the evening hours, and on Saturdays to meet the imposing deadline while adhering to a strict set of design guidelines.
Inventor and FIRST® founder Dan Kamen was joined by former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Grammy Award winner will.i.am (the front man of The Black Eyed Peas), and a host of other celebrities via video to mark the start of this year’s competition, the aptly named “Rebound Rumble.” The kick-off event was held in January at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, N.H., the hometown and headquarters of FIRST®. It was broadcast live by NASA-TV and aired at 73 locations around the world. Locally, Everett and other area high school students viewed the kick-off event at Northeastern University.
“It tells you a lot about the FRC that it has garnered the support of such a high-profile and diverse cross-section of people,” Parker said. “Leaders recognize the value of supporting high-quality science initiatives that inspire kids to pursue STEM careers.”
This is the second time EHS has participated in the FRC. Mr. Blake and his father, Larry, a retired engineer who has volunteered countless hours to the EHS robotics program, led last year’s team into competition. This year, three additional mentors have volunteered to help Everett High students prepare their machine.
In the end, though, it’s up to the students to bring their robots to life. During the FRC Kickoff, participants were shown the new “Rebound Rumble” game playing field and received a Kit of Parts made up of motors, batteries, a control system, a PC, and a mix of automation components – but no instructions. Students have six weeks to design, build, program, and test their robots to meet the season’s engineering challenge. Once these young inventors create a robot, their teams participate in competitions that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.
Regional winners advance to a national competition at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Participants are also eligible to apply for scholarships offered through FIRST’s $14.8 million scholarship and grant program.