400 High School Students Kick Off FIRST Robotics Season

Taylor Holt
January 08, 2017 04:57 PM

"I honestly like the community and just what FIRST teaches you," said Matthew Johnston, a senior at Denfeld High School, at Saturday's FIRST Robotics Kick-off Event.

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For Johnston, this will be his third time participating in the competition, and this year's game may be the most challenging one yet.

"It's called FIRST Steamworks," he said."It's different because first it's so vast. We've had a bunch of different challenges, between stacking totes, doing more obstacle based things like for Stronghold, which was last year's (game). We're preparing for a lot of long nights and a lot of reading."

At the game reveal, he along with hundreds of other students found out what the next six weeks would have in store. In that time, 20 teams will work together to a build a robot to compete in the big upcoming competition this spring.

"There's all these different things and skills and talents that kids have to bring to this to make it a success," said Jeff Ruprecht, coach for the Hermantown High School team. "Every year, it's amazing to see how they build upon previous years."

Right away, for some teams like Grand Rapids, it was straight to strategizing.

"They had so many ideas to begin with even before coming to this event and now that they're here they haven't stopped talking," said Claire Schumacher, leader for the Grand Rapids and Greenway High School team.

For the brand new team entering the competition this year, she says there's a lot to look forwaed to. "I am looking forward to just seeing kids doing engineering and doing technical things and seeing progress with something that they are actually putting effort to," said Schumacher.

But as much of a competition as this is, many agree it's about more than just that.

"It's really helped me in my job and to go to college and do what I want to do," said Johnston. 

"I think it's a huge confidence boost for college and beyond," said Ruprecht.

The teams will compete in the big tournament, March 1 through the 4th.


Taylor Holt

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