Area Youth Encouraged to Compete in Robot Competition

DUBOIS – Penn State Extension 4-H in Clearfield and Jefferson Counties has teamed with the JCPenney Store DuBois Mall to offer an exciting opportunity for youth ages 13-18. They will be starting a FIRST 4-H robotics program where youth will completely build a team robot from scratch and take it to a competition in Pittsburgh to compete against other teams.  All materials will be provided and youth do not have to currently be a member of 4-H to join.  Both youth and adult mentors are needed for the success of this Team.

FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” and was the brainchild of Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, the Portable Dialysis Machine, and the Wheelchair that climbs stairs and stands upright (among many other inventions).  His idea was to give high school students the opportunity to be as inspired about science and technology as they were about sports.  He wanted them to have the opportunity to look up to engineers and scientists the same way that they looked up to baseball and basketball players.

FIRST is based around a 6-week design and build session, in which teams are given a kit of parts and a game like task to perform.  This year it starts on January 7th.  At the end of the six weeks, all work stops and the robot must be shipped.   Once the robot is shipped teams can compete in Regional competitions all over the United States.  Each Regional competition presents the opportunity to qualify for nationals through winning awards and/or the event.   The preseason time is used for learning the necessary skills, teambuilding and fundraising.

There are many benefits to participating in this program.  To name a few, youth will learn how to use sophisticated hardware and software.  They will be exposed to design, project management, programming, teamwork, strategic thinking, and cooperation.  And they will be eligible for nearly $15 million dollars in college scholarships through the FIRST program!

Beginning in January, the team will meet regularly to build the robot to prepare for the competition.  The Regional Pittsburgh competition will be March 8-10.

To learn more about this program, feel free to attend the information session on Dec. 15 in Room 209 DEF Building at Penn State DuBois Campus at 7:00 p.m.  You can call or email Susan at 814-849-7361 or email skm3@psu.edu or Jana at 814-765-7878 or jld289@psu.edu.  RSVP’s for the information session would be appreciated, but are not necessary.

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