FIRST Robotics Competition

PRIOR LAKE, Minn. - It's informally called the Super Bowl of smarts. To the kids that make up the FIRST high school robotics teams, this weekend feels like their Super Bowl. It's the state competition.

Take basketball, it's a sport played around the world. But there's a catch; these students have to design and construct a robot to play the game for them.

That's the challenge for this year's FIRST Robotics Competition, which stands for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology."

Prior Lake and Irondale are the best of the best, ranked as the number one and two seeds in the state, respectively.

"We only have six weeks to make out robot, and that goes for everything from fabrication of the parts, to planning the robot in 3D on the computer to electrical, to actually playing and practicing the game," explains Prior Lake's Sophie Sampson.

The challenge changes each year. This year, the robots must first play a game of three-on-three basketball. Since each school only makes one robot, each team wins and loses alongside two others.

"That's one of the things that FIRST tries to promote, working with everybody no matter whose team they're on," said Irondale's Kyra Schaefer.

After a two minute game, teams must join forces again to balance two robots on a bridge. When things go wrong, the teams have to fix the problem!

The idea behind the FIRST program is to give students real world experience before they even leave high school.

"We are learning how to problem solve, that's the basic part of it," Sophie said. "We are learning the logic behind taking something from an idea, and turning it into an actual product."

Along the way, they students manage to have a little fun.

The state competition is open to the public. If you want to catch these robots in action, they'll be competing this Saturday at the University of Minnesota's Williams Arena. For more information, head to the program's website.


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