Okaloosa County Students Participate in  Robotics Competition

Okaloosa County Students Participate in Robotics Competition

The Saturday preceding the Thanksgiving Break was the first competition of the newly sanctioned AeroCoast Robotic League. The competition was held at the Hsu Foundation facility in Fort Walton Beach on November 17, 2018. 

A total of 10 teams across northwest Florida participated in the first of three meets.  Okaloosa County School District had three teams compete—Davidson Middle School, Fort Walton Beach High School, and two teams from the Advanced Manufacturing program (students from Choctawhatchee High School, Crestview High School, Fort Walton Beach High School, and Niceville High School).  This is the first year that all three schools/programs have competed in the FTC level of competition. 

Okaloosa County Students competed in three different levels within FIRST ® Robotics (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology). Middle and High School students competed in FTC (FIRST ® Technical Challenge). Students worked as a team to design, build, program, and competed with their robot, all while working within time, budget, established criteria & constraints, for the problem theme. This year’s theme was Space Travel. 

Saturday’s event was a most exhilarating experience for all that participated and was the true manifestation of the culture of the FIRST ® Robotics Program. For many of the new teams in the AeroCoast League, students and mentors, this was their first attempt in the Competitive Robotics Arena. 

As can be expected for the first meet of the season, few of the teams’ robots were working; however, in the spirit of “coopertition”, magic happened. The synergy, the sharing of knowledge, and the learning that took place throughout the day were truly amazing. By the end of the day, ALL teams had working robots and the excitement in the room was beyond description. 

Students’ shared ideas, programming skills, parts, strategies, and supported each other as if they had been friends for years. Unlike traditional sports rivalries between schools, all students came together as one. Only for the few minutes in the arena for each round were they in competition. The rest of the time they were sharing and helping each other. 

Unlike traditional sporting events, “Robotics” is a sport where EVERY student can Go Pro. The knowledge and skills these youngsters are learning are what runs our world today; from our vehicles, to the ports and movement of goods across the country, to Aerospace, to advanced manufacturing in every industry. These students are all on the fast track to exciting and rewarding careers. 

“The students learned so much and were so excited about what they learned at the meet that they went back to their classrooms on Monday (the first day of their Thanksgiving break) and worked on their robot so that they were better prepared for another upcoming meet,” said April Branscome, Okaloosa County School District Career and Technical Education Program Director.  “That is not only dedication on the part of the students, but it is also dedication on the part of their teachers.” 

Thank you, sponsors, for your generous support, your time and talents, all dedicated to mentoring these very bright students and providing these opportunities …. The Future Is Indeed Very Bright. A VERY Special Thank You goes out to Doolittle Institute, Hsu Educational Foundation, BeastCode, the Emerald Coast Robotics Association (ECRA), the Radioactive Roaches FRC Team, and Team Duct Tape.

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