Merrimack High FIRST Robotics at the world championship

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Merrimack High FIRST Robotics at the world championship

Postby MattPublicover » Fri May 06, 2011 5:48 am

Last weekend, Chop Shop, the high school's FIRST Robotics team, was able to participate in the World Championship in St. Louis by virtue of having won the Chairman's Award in the Manchester regional competition in March. My wife and I were able to attend, and I have nothing but high praise for the kids and the adult volunteers who work with them. Pulling off the trip on short notice was enough of a challenge, but surviving this competition without losing any students, fingers or their humor deserves an award of its own! 350 teams from around the world were crammed into the arena -- we're talking about a pro football team's indoor stadium plus an attached convention center, but there were so many active, energized teenagers acting brilliant and silly and natural that the environment was definitely crammed and frenetic. Teams were dressed in outlandish costumes, robots of all sizes were whirring and zipping here and there, and above it all was the incessant beat of loud music that appears to be a hallmark of the FIRST organization.

The team did not win the top prizes, but in all fairness, I have to say that some of the winning robots reminded me of those Cub Scout Pinewood Derby cars that were built by dad instead of the scouts. Some teams' robots clearly had significant hands-on help from the professional mentors, while Chop Shop's robot, like most of the robots, was truly the work of the students (with advice from BAE engineers, I don't want to discount them).

The Merrimack students were extremely well behaved, polite, friendly, and did not seem the least bit overawed by the competition. In fact, out of 15,000 kids at this conference, I did not see ONE instance of inappropriate behavior. No restrooms trashed, no food thrown on the floor, the environment was kept as neat and clean as could be expected. Long waits for award announcements or getting into the venue prompted spontaneous dancing and other healthy hijinks rather than any outbursts of negativity. In short, these are great kids, and this appeared to be a great experience for all of them, perhaps a once in a lifetime chance to be legitimately contending for a world championship in anything.

Great job, Chop Shop!!!!!!
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Re: Merrimack High FIRST Robotics at the world championship

Postby ggkrupp » Fri May 06, 2011 9:29 am

That is awesome! Thanks for giving us a first-hand account. We are all very proud of our students! It is particularly gratifying to see so many get excited about engineering. :D
Gary G. Krupp

America is a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy (thankfully) :-)
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