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Teacher Talk: Robotics Competition Vermont First Tech Challenge Regional Championship

February 17, 2017

Mater Christi School’s Bulldog Robotics Team Enters International Championship

On February 11, 2017, Mater Christi’s Bulldog Robotics team competed in the Vermont First Tech Challenge Regional Championship. Organized by UVM, the competition took place at Essex High School.  Of the 32 participating teams, 17 came from other states from the Northeast in a region spanning from Maine to Virginia.  The challenge is to design, build, program, and operate a robot according to the competition rules for the season, culminating in a head-to-head competition.

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Each FIRST Tech Challenge team is made of up to 10 students in grades 7-12.  The MCS Bulldog team has 11 members and the group participated in 3 of the 4 scrimmages that took place at Essex High School before the Championship. The group was guided by Ms Tricia Finkle, Makerspace Integrationist and Michael Early, Technology Director, with amazing support from MCS parents. In the process, students not only experience the excitement that comes from solving complex problems and creating something new, but also develop authentic STEM skills and practice engineering principles.

The annual cost of the MCS Bulldog Robotics program is about $2000.  Registration for MCS to participate in the First Tech Challenge is over $500 and the cost of the equipment and materials used in developing the competition robot average about $1200 per year.  Money for the original kit of Tetrix parts, control electronics and registration was raised through a grant from Global Foundries sponsored Tech Valley FIRST.  This season, funding for additional and replacement parts for the robot and major elements of the official playing field was elicited by Jeremy Matosky from local business sponsors. Robot parts and most field elements can be re-used annually.

Ms Finkle and Mr Early were extremely pleased with the efforts of the team.  The team members throughout the process exhibited such a degree of excitement that more students have already signed up for the Bulldog Robotics Team.

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Sister Joanne LaFreniere, RSM
Director of Public Relations and Spiritual Life