FIRST® Tech Challenge is a robotics programme for children aged 12-18, seeking to build relationships between today’s professionals and tomorrow’s talent.
Working in teams of up to 15, and supported by an industry mentor, young people design, build and programme a robot to compete in the annual championships.
Team members assume individual and collaborative roles reflective of real-life careers – from software engineers and designers, to project managers and communications officers – all play a part in becoming competition-ready.
A representative from FIRST Robotics said: “We call the FIRST Robotics Competition the ultimate sport for the mind. It combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. It’s as close to real-world engineering as a student can get.”
Under strict rules, limited resources and a six-week time limit, teams of students are challenged to build and program industrial-sized robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors.
During the Championship event in Peterborough, teams competed against each other within alliances, using their robots to complete a series of tasks on a space-themed playing field. After each round the team had to quickly assess and redesign the robot to improve throughout the day. There were only 20 minutes between rounds, so the students worked quickly to tighten bolts and make adjustments.
The Inspire Award is presented to the team that embodies all aspects of FIRST – especially their core values of discovery, innovation, impact on the world, inclusion and teamwork.
St Chris pupil Honey Glennie said: “It hasn’t properly sunk in yet that we have won the Inspire Award and will be heading to Detroit! We feel so shocked – winning is a dream come true. We can’t wait to head to America, our teacher is from America so it will be really special. A particular highlight for all of us was all the people that we met today, all the teams were amazing and deserve a shout out.”
Teacher Jennifer Petit, who runs the St Chris Robotics Club said: “While the robot is important, it is the work of the entire team that helped us win and become champions! We developed a team identity as the St Chris Snowflakes, choosing pink as our team colour. We documented our journey on social media as well as in an engineering notebook, which showed how we used engineering methods to design, build, program, and test the robot. The team developed a business plan to highlight the robot, but also everything they would do to help others during the competition.”
Head of St Chris, Richard Palmer said: “We’re extremely proud of the St Chris Snowflakes – they’ve worked really hard over the past few months to prepare for the competition, and on the day embodied the spirit of the School by supporting the other teams, and by approaching the tasks with hard work, innovation and, most importantly, with a spirit of fun and enjoyment. St Chris has a strong pedigree in STEM subjects which play a core part in our creative curriculum so it’s fantastic to see this come to life!”
As Championship winners, the St Chris team will join 30,000 students competing head to head to be crowned global champions at the world’s largest student robotics competition in Detroit.