Education

Jan 24, 2014 5:37 PM by MSU News Service

MSU to host elementary, middle and high school students in regional robotics tourney

BOZEMAN - Students from Montana, Washington, Idaho and Wyoming will pit their robots against each other on Friday, Jan. 31 and Saturday, Feb. 1 in the annual Montana State University College of Engineering First Robotics championship.

Students in grades 7-12 compete in the First Tech Challenge (FTC). Teams are responsible for designing, building and programming their robots to compete in an alliance format against other teams. The robot kit is reusable from year-to-year and is programmed using a variety of programming languages.

FTC teams, including coaches, mentors and volunteers, are required to develop strategy and build robots based on sound engineering principles. Awards are given for the competition as well as for community outreach, design and other real-world accomplishments.

Students in grades 4-8 compete in the First Lego League (FLL). These tournaments introduce younger students to real-world engineering challenges by building LEGO-based robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface. With the national theme of "Nature's Fury," FLL competitors learn about weather and participate in a research project based on the theme.

"These are our future engineers - they like tinkering and designing. This competition teaches teamwork, which is part of the judging," said MSU organizer Allison Banfield.

The MSU competition is expected to involve 32 FTC teams, with four to eight students per team. The FLL age group will draw 55 teams, with 10 kids per team.

"Students love the level of engagement, independence and even in some ways, the challenge of it all. There is a unique place for a variety of students - boys and girls, academic achievers and unconventional learners," said Rob Reynolds, coach of the team coming out of Eureka. "Students have gained a level of confidence that is allowing them to take these skills and give back to the community."

The robots will run in Shroyer Gym on the Montana State University campus with events from noon to 5 p.m. both days. The event is free and open to the public.

Sponsors for the events include Advanced Electronic Designs, Oracle, WebFilings, American Computer Museum, MSU College of Engineering and the Montana Space Grant Consortium.

For more information, www.coe.montana.edu/first

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