160 South Carolina Students on FIRST® Tech Challenge Robotics Teams Compete in Qualifying Tournament

(N. Charleston, SC, January 29, 2022) – 160 middle and high school students from Eastern South Carolina are gearing up to compete in a qualifying tournament as part of FIRST® Tech Challenge. FIRST Tech Challenge is an exciting, mentor-based program that is one of several program offerings from FIRST®. FIRST, a robotics community that prepares young people for the future, is a global nonprofit with a mission to make STEM education more accessible and fun for students ages PreK-18.

After spending several months designing, building, and programming, teams will come together from all over eastern South Carolina to compete in a Qualifying Tournament that will include remote judging, inspections, qualification and elimination matches, and an awards ceremony. The South Carolina FIRST® Tech Challenge East Qualifying Tournament will take place on Saturday, January 29th at Military Magnet Academy with opening ceremonies at 10:15 am and the final robot matches and Awards Ceremony starting at approximately 5:30 pm.

The 2021-2022 FIRST Tech Challenge season is called FREIGHT FRENZY presented by Raytheon Technologies. During a time when new challenges are emerging daily to disrupt our global transportation systems, this challenge is exposing students to logistics and all the difficulties and constraints that can affect delivery of freight in a world-wide economy.

In this year’s robot challenge, teams work together to build a robot while learning to collaborate, communicate, and problem-solve as a team. The competition is played on a 12 ft. x 12 ft. square field. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance by navigating a complex transportation system by traversing barriers and racing against time to load and deliver essential freight to where it is needed. Freight consists of boxes, balls, and rubber ducks and may be delivered to alliance specific or shared shipping hubs and storage areas to earn points. Teams must be careful to follow warehouse operations when moving cargo or they will receive a penalty. There are two alliances of two robots each – “red” and “blue.” Matches have two distinct periods of play: a 30-second autonomous period followed by a two-minute driver-controlled period. The last 30 seconds of the driver-controlled period is called the end game. Points are awarded for various autonomous tasks including using vision technology to read a “barcode” and earn bonus points for depositing pre-loaded cargo properly. During the end game, ducks may be “delivered” by robots by rotating loading docks.

The top teams competing in the tournament will earn advancement to the FIRST® Tech Challenge South Carolina State Championship in Columbia, February 25-26, 2022 by either their robot ranking or for earning a judged award. The top two teams from the state championship will advance to the FIRST® Championship Houston in April 2022.

FIRST® Tech Challenge teams build and program robots using an Android based control system by programming in Java or using other apps. They have a wide variety of building materials available to them, and they design their robot to complete scoring tasks along with an alliance partner. Some teams use 3-D modeling software to design their robot virtually before building it in order to reduce the number of design iterations. In addition to robot related skills, students also gain experience in raising funds, designing and marketing their team brand, and doing outreach to share STEM with their community. Students who participate in FIRST® Tech Challenge are eligible for over $80 million in college scholarships provided by participating universities and sponsors. Learn more about the program at www.firstinspires.org/robotics/ftc

The South Carolina FIRST® Tech Challenge East Qualifying Tournament is free and open to the public, and anyone interested in learning more, starting a team, volunteering, or mentoring with FIRST® Tech Challenge is encouraged to attend. Masks will be required for all participants and attendees, and a health screening and arm banding will be completed upon entry. Food will be available for purchase on site, and the robot action is sure to have you cheering. Come out and encourage these hard-working robotics students as they work to become a generation of global citizens who are ready and willing to solve difficult challenges.

For more information or to volunteer, contact FIRST SC ‘s FIRST Tech Program Delivery Partner, Linda Stewart (linda.stewart@firstsouthcarolina.org). Additional details can be found at https://www.firstsouthcarolina.org/ftc-east-qualifier

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