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Robot Competition Powers Up In St. Louis

(Véronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio)
Teams of teens will be competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition regional at Chaifetz Arena this weekend.

Ready...Set... Go build a robot that can go play a game that looks a little like disc golf meets American Gladiators! 

Oh, we're going to need a website with that, too, and you have around two months to get everything ready to go. 

Sound daunting?

That’s the challenge that was set before nearly 40 teams of high school students from across the region that assembled at the St. Louis Science Center on Saturday for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition. 

“The really cool part about St. Louis is that it bridges all gaps,” says Paul Freiling, FIRST robotics coordinator for the St. Louis Science Center.  “We have St. Louis Public Schools that are involved, we have private schools that are involved, we have home schoolers who are involved.  And then we have community groups that participate in the program.   Any group in the St. Louis area is eligible to participate, that’s the cool thing about it.”

Freiling adds that this isn’t just about programing and wiring, this is about life skills. 

He says not every student is destine for a career in engineering, but they will all walk away from the competition with valuable experiences that can help propel them toward success later in life.

“You know, there’s a lot of presentation skills involved in FIRST,” Freiling says.  “They’re presenting to judges.  These judges are CEOs of major corporations in the St. Louis area.  They’re getting a really great experience at a high school level which some people don’t get throughout their lifetime.”

The regional round of the completion will be held at Chaifetz Arena on March 15-16, the world championships will be held from April 24-27 at the Edward Jones Dome. 

Follow Tim Lloyd on Twitter: @TimSLloyd

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