Robotics Climbs to Success: FIRST Robotics Competition

Diane Pham, Contributor

After a long hiatus of two years, the Mad Rockers robotics team recently competed in the internationally known FIRST Robotics Competition.

You might be wondering, “What is FIRST?”. FIRST is an international organization dedicated to furthering STEM education. Our team competes specifically in the FIRST Robotics Competition, otherwise known as FRC. Every year, a new game is released that centers around a theme. This year’s theme was “Rapid React” which revolved around transportation. Teams had to design and build robots that could both shoot balls and climb monkey bar-like rungs.

Once the robot is built, most teams will compete in one or two regional competitions, with the top teams moving on to the championship held in Houston, Texas. The Madison City Schools team, known as #2973 The Mad Rockers in the FIRST program, chose to compete at both the Arkansas Regional and the local Rocket City Regional. The team ranked well and was selected to be in the playoffs both times. They made it to the Quarterfinals in Arkansas and the Semifinals at Rocket City.

When polled on their favorite part of the competition, team members replied with a variety of reasons:

Malachi Allen, a senior and team captain, said, “It was a thrill to watch our robot compete with the other top robots, and I find it incredible that I led our team to do that…and seeing the other robot catch on fire” at the Arkansas Regional. Robotics is pretty cool and sometimes weird stuff happens at competitions, like robots catching on fire.

Junior Cyrus Boak decided that his favorite part was “seeing everything play out on the field against or alongside teams with similar stories to ours.” Unlike other competitions, FRC emphasizes collaboration with not only teammates but other teams as well. The game is designed so that multiple robots must work together to accomplish the goal. Many of the teams come from various origins, with all 50 states and several countries being represented throughout FRC.

As a group comprising both Madison City High Schools, the team was happy to welcome James Clemens teacher, Ms. Jemison, as a teacher sponsor. She praised their efforts this year by saying, “Much leadership, teamwork, and mentoring was displayed at all times.”

Although the current season has now ended, the Mad Rockers are hard at work preparing for the next school year and beyond. As junior Jeremiah Yang puts it, “Robotics is a wide field that lets people of all talents join in and contribute.” While the school year comes to a close, the team remains strong in its efforts to further strengthen STEM education in our community.