POTSDAM — Clarkson University’s Institute for STEM Education FIRST Robotics Programs were busy this year supporting local teams and hosting remote tournaments. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, NH, the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.
Clarkson’s FIRST Robotics programs are part of the K-12 outreach programs within the Institute for STEM Education. In a typical year, Clarkson’s FIRST Robotics programs support over 50 FIRST teams. For season 2020-21, Clarkson’s FIRST Robotics programs supported 12 school-based, plus 10 community-based teams (five temporarily adopted from the Utica region) for the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) where they hosted a remote regional FLL Challenge Championship tournament and a remote FLL Explore Expo.
The theme for FIRST season 2020-21 was GAME CHANGERS powered by Star Wars: Force for Change, where teams worldwide explored what it means to revolutionize the way we play and move. Clarkson’s NY-Potsdam Regional FLL Challenge Remote Championship winner was Code Panthers Team 49142 from Parishville-Hopkinton Central School District. They also went on to compete as one of only 200 teams across the globe in the first-ever FIRST LEGO League Virtual Open International event hosted by Greece.
FIRST LEGO League introduces science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to children ages 4-16 through fun, exciting hands-on learning. Participants gain real-world problem-solving experience through a guided, global robotics program, helping today’s students and teachers build a better future together. FIRST LEGO League consists of three divisions (Discover, Explore, and Challenge), aimed at inspiring youth to experiment and grow their critical thinking, coding, and design skills through hands-on STEM learning and robotics. Through the three divisions of FLL students will understand the basics of STEM and apply their skills in an exciting competition while building habits of learning, confidence, and teamwork skills along the way.
Dr. Melissa Richards in her role as director of Horizons Programs and Robotics Outreach Programs is also the NY-Potsdam Region FLL Partner.
“FIRST teams and competitions are all powered by volunteers! I am so grateful to everyone that has volunteered in the past, and this year especially,” said Dr. Richards. “This year’s remote tournament volunteers were truly Game Changers. Special thanks to Judge Advisor Captain Ryan Kittle, Head Referee Peter John King, Emcee Ben Galluzzo, Game Announcer Emmanuel Esparza, and the Clarkson University FIRST Robotics Living Learning Community (LLC) floor members.”
The FIRST Robotics LLC served as remote mentors, tournament judges, referees and Zoom tech support, assisted with tournament preparation and aided with monthly online coach’s coffee hours.
Clarkson undergrad Bradley Neureuther received honorable mentions for the global FLL Volunteer of the Year Award.
Clarkson also supported eight school-based FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Teams [School Districts: Brasher Falls, Canton, Indian River (two teams), Malone, Massena, Norwood-Norfolk, and Potsdam] through BOCES CoSer agreements. FIRST Tech Challenge teams (maximum of 15 members, grades 7-12) are challenged to design, build, program, and operate robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format.
Sendy Sandstoners Team 13371 (Potsdam Central) and Dr. Robotnik Team 13357 (Indian River Central) were two of the 20 teams that qualified for slots to the NY Excelsior FIRST Tech Challenge Regional Remote Championship hosted by regional partner Mohawk Valley Community College.
Clarkson’s Institute for STEM Education FIRST Robotics programs is excited to continue to support regional teams through the 2021-22 FIRST FORWARD season!