February 13, 2012
APL Hosts FIRST Robotics Competitions
On January 7, 2012, APL hosted a Maryland FIRST LEGO League Qualifier event for middle school students. The winners of that event headed to the Maryland State Championship at the end of January. FIRST LEGO League provides students ages 9–14 with a hands-on, interactive robotics program in a sports-like atmosphere. Teams of up to 10 players focus on team building, problem solving, creativity, and analytical thinking to develop solutions to a problem.
On February 25, APL and FIRST will jointly host this year's FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Maryland State Robotics Championship in the Kossiakoff Center. In this competition, teams of 14–18 year olds (essentially high school students) are challenged to design, build, and program their robots to cooperate with a partner robot and compete against two other robots of an opposing alliance. The aluminum-framed robots, which can be up to 1.5 feet long per side, are programmed using a variety of languages. This year's challenge, "Bowled Over," involves gathering and stacking racquetballs in plastic containers to the greatest possible height and moving bowling balls up a ramp to a scoring location. Awards are given for the competition as for well as for community outreach, design, and other real-world accomplishments. APL will host 32 high school robotics teams from around the state as they compete to win Maryland's FTC Championship.
The idea behind FIRST is to foster the next generation of engineers and scientists by getting students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math through a forum that allows for fun, learning, competition, and team building. Between the two competitions, 140 APL volunteers proudly supported these efforts.
Maryland FIRST offers a progression of programs for youth in grades K–12, ages 6–18. With assistance from sponsors, coaches, mentors, and friends, FIRST programs challenge and inspire more than 3,000 students in more than 400 teams across the state. Maryland FIRST coordinates events and fundraising with the FIRST National Capital Region, which encompasses Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. More information about the FTC robotics competition can be found at http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/ftc.