Maryland 4-H teams were very active in the year’s FIRST Tech Challenge. FIRST which stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” is an international youth organization that operates robotics competitions for elementary through high school students. FIRST Tech Challenge is for students in grades 7 to 12. Teams consisting of around 10 members design, build, program and operate robots to compete in a two on two robot contest on a 12’ X 12’ playing field. These competitions combine the excitement of sports with the rigors of science and technology. A new challenge is released every September and competitions are held throughout the winter months. The competitions in Maryland are organized by STEMaction a non-profit organization based in Columbia, MD. This year over 100 teams competed in FIRST Tech Challenge in Maryland. Teams first compete in one or more of six State Qualifiers to earn a spot in the Maryland State Championship. The top eight teams from the Maryland State Championship move on to the East Superregional which takes in statesfrom Virginia to Maine. The top teams from the East Superregional move on to the FIRST World Championships to be held in St. Louis, MO.
This year seven of the 100 teams competing in Maryland were 4-H based teams. Those teams are:
This year five of the teams qualified to participate in the Maryland State Championship. Three of the teams made it to the Finals. Team 8521 4-H Hard-Hitting Hooligans and Team 2818 were on the Winning Alliance and Team 7393 electronVolts was on the Finalist Alliance. Teams receiving awards at the Maryland Championship were 7128 Mechanical Paradox – 2nd place Inspire Award (top award given) and the Think Award, 2818 G-FORCE – 3rd place Inspire Award, 4318 Green Machine Reloaded – Motivate Award. Team 7393 electronVolts set a new high score of 300 points among teams world wide. Team 4318 Green Machine Reloaded also participated in the West Virginia Championship and received the Inspire Award. Team 2818 G-FORCE participated in the Pennsylvania State Championship were they were on the Winning Alliance and received the Rockwell Collins Innovate Award. G-FORCE was also award the Promote Award for creating the best promotion video at the Pennsylvania State Championship. Phil Malone long time mentor of the team 2818 and 4240 in Garrett County receive the Compass Award at the Maryland State Championship. Phil helped create the GEARS (Garrett Engineering And Robotics) center in Garrett County and has been coaching FIRST Teams in Garrett County for the past 12 years. Teams 2818, 4318, 7182 and 8521 will move on to the Superregional being held in Scranton, PA on March 17-19th. They will be competing for spots at the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis in April. Congratulations to all the teams and thanks to all the great volunteers who help to mentor the teams. If you are interested in more information about FIRST in Maryland visit their website at https://firstinmaryland.org/first-tech-challenge-program.